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TCL > June 2002 Issue > In Memoriam

June 2002       Vol. 31, No. 6       Page  110
In Memoriam

In Memoriam

tcl-2002june-whiteByron R. White, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice, died on April 15, 2002. He was 84. White was born in Fort Collins, Colorado, on June 8, 1917, and raised in the small town of Wellington. He attended the University of Colorado, Boulder ("CU") on a football scholarship. White graduated Phi Beta Kappa from CU in 1938, and played pro football for the Pittsburgh Pirates (now Steelers). He was named "Rookie of the Year," leading the league in rushing. White accepted a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in 1938, but returned to the United States in 1939 when war broke out in Europe. Back in the United States, he played one year of pro football with the Detroit Lions, and again led the league in rushing. During the off-season, he attended Yale Law School, and graduated summa cum laude and first in his class. From 1942 to 1945, White served in the U.S. Navy as an intelligence officer and earned a Bronze Star. In 1946, White married Marion Stearns of Denver. He joined the Denver law firm of Lewis, Grant, Newton, Davis & Henry (now Davis, Graham & Stubbs, LLP) in 1947, where he had a general practice with some emphasis on bankruptcy, commercial transactions, and real estate matters. He left in 1960 to serve as chairman of the National Citizens for Kennedy Campaign. He was appointed Deputy U.S. Attorney General and served from 1961 to 1962, in charge of civil rights for President John F. Kennedy. In 1962, White was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court and served as Justice for thirty-one years, until his retirement in 1993. Byron White was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, and was a member of the National Football League’s Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1994, the Colorado Bar Association honored White at its annual Bar convention with an Honorary Lifetime Membership. That same year, by an act of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Post Office and federal courthouse building in downtown Denver was renamed in his honor as the "ByronWhite United States Courthouse." The Colorado Bar Foundation and the CBA commissioned a portrait of White and a glass memorabilia case in the foyer of the newly named courthouse. White has been remembered throughout the nation as a "distinguished jurist," a "national hero to sports fans," "one of the most important lawyers in our state’s legal history," and a "Colorado legend." White is survived by his wife, two children, and six grandchildren.


The Colorado Bar Foundation ("Foundation") is one means of commemorating members of the profession. The Foundation was established in 1953 and functions exclusively for educational and charitable purposes. The Foundation promotes the advancement of jurisprudence and the administration of justice in Colorado through grants to help educate the general public and provide assistance to the state’s legal institutions. All gifts to the Foundation are deductible contributions for federal income tax purposes. For additional details about becoming a Foundation supporter, call Dana Collier Smith in Denver at (303) 824-5318 or (800) 332-6736.

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