Our Mentor

Senate Floor Statement of Senator Sessions

Tribute to Richard W. Vollmer, Jr.


Wednesday, May 7, 2003:

Mr. President, the death of United States District Judge, Judge Richard W. Vollmer, Jr. was a great loss to our country, the American legal system, his friends, and especially his wonderful family. Judge Vollmer was born March 7, 1926, in St. Louis, MO, and moved to Mobile, AL, in 1941 where he attended McGill Institute. After graduation he enrolled in the U.S. Navy and served until 1946 in the South Pacific. He returned to Mobile where he graduated from Springhill College in 1949. He began attending the University of Alabama School of Law from 1950-52 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saipan. He returned to the University of Alabama School of Law where he served as a member of the Board of Editors of the Alabama Law Review and graduated in 1953. He married Marilyn Jean Stikes in 1949 and they have five children and nine grandchildren. Two of his sons, Rick and Jim, are following in their father's footsteps as practicing lawyers in the Mobile area. After law school, Judge Vollmer worked several years for State Farm Insurance Company prior to joining the law firm of Pillans, Reams, Tappan, Wood and Roberts in 1956. He engaged in an active practice in State and Federal courts where he won the respect of his fellow lawyers and jurists before whom he appeared. He was a charter member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, serving as president of the Alabama Chapter in 1984-85, and was serving as president of the Mobile Bar Association at the time of his appointment to the Federal bench. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush nominated him to the district bench for the Southern District of Alabama, where he began his career on June 18, 1990, taking senior status on December 31, 2000. He had a strong work ethic and he demanded the same of the lawyers who appeared before him. He never failed to offer his assistance with a congested court docket during times when the Southern District of Alabama did not have its full complement of active judges. Even upon taking senior status, and with failing health, he was always available if the workload demanded it. Judge Vollmer was not just somebody who worked in the courthouse. Although he loved the law, he knew the love of family came before work, and was deeply concerned about the personal well-being of all the courthouse family with whom he worked, often going out of his way to inquire into their well-being. As U.S. District Judge William Steele has noted, he had a bright and warm presence with a quick smile and laugh. His positive spirit has made the U.S. Courthouse in Mobile a wonderful place to work. Widely esteemed as a jurist, respected by all who appeared before him, he brought to the bench a sincere quality of humility, love of the law, patience, personal integrity and genuine faith. As was said in the opening prayer at his investiture ceremony, "Justice and justice alone shall be your aim." It can now be said with certitude that Judge Vollmer spent his career dispensing justice fairly and impartially. I had the honor of practicing before Judge Vollmer and to get a direct view of his noble character and humanity. He cared deeply for the unfortunate, was pained to see young people be sentenced to long jail terms though he did his duty. In addition, he was a generous affirmer and true mentor for many. I vividly remember him calling me into his office and encouraging me to consider a race for attorney general of Alabama. I knew his judgment and insight was good and that he had a valuable perspective. That advice meant a great deal to me. I respected his judgment and knew his comments were given with my interests in mind. Such human touches have meant much to many others. Judge Vollmer served in an exceptional court. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama has a great record of integrity, industry, legal skill and collegiality. He received an illustrious tradition and passed it on even brighter. Judge Vollmer died at his home in Mobile on March 20, 2003. He leaves a legacy of always seeking to do what is just and fair and right.


Source: http://sessions.senate.gov/pressapp/newrecord.cfm?id=203684

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