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Virginia "Ginny" LOONEY

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Virginia "Ginny" LOONEY Obituary
LOONEY, Virginia "Ginny" VIRGINIA LUCILE "GINNY" LOONEY Virginia Lucile "Ginny" Looney, who served as the City of Atlanta's first ethics officer and as law clerk to two chief justices of the Supreme Court of Georgia, passed away June 25, 2014. She was 61. Former Chief Justice Norman Fletcher, whom she served for more than 12 years, said "her great analytical skills and writing skills and research skills really put her in a class all by herself." He added: "She was one of the most important people in my life." Similar praise came from friends, employers and colleagues this week following Ginny's death from ovarian cancer. Mary Jo Bryan, who was also a law clerk for Fletcher, recalled Ginny's "sharp legal mind and her ability to parse and untangle complex issues." She added, "She was just as passionate about her family as she was about the law. She was absolutely devoted to her boys and was so proud of their accomplishments and the young men they have become." Ginny's husband, Steve Suitts, said she requested "a remembrance to celebrate our time together, not to mourn my death," so a gathering of family and friends will be held in the future instead of a funeral service now. Arrangements are being handled by the Cremation Society of Georgia. In addition to her husband, who is vice president of the Southern Education Foundation, Looney is survived by her parents, Sally and Hoyt Looney of Lacey Springs, AL; son David, a teacher at Charlottesville High School in Virginia; son Phillip, a journalism student at the University of Maryland, College Park; her brother, James Looney of Huntsville, AL; and a sister, Mary Ann Buehler of Spring Hill, TN. She was preceded in death by her sister, Jane Leila Looney. Ginny was born on September 11, 1952, in Japan and grew up in Huntsville, AL. She received her bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, in Southern Studies and Women's Studies from the University of Alabama. She worked as a newspaper reporter in Decatur, Alabama, and for public interest groups in Alabama and Georgia before heading to the University of Georgia School of Law, where she earned her law degree in 1985, graduated summa cum laude, was first in her class, and served as editor of the Georgia Law Review. She was a law clerk for federal Judge William Wayne Justice in Texas before arriving in Atlanta to join Mayer, Nations, & Perkerson, followed by three years as a litigation specialist at Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore. Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin hired Ginny as the city's ethics officer and credited her with "finding ways to reinvigorate the public's trust in the city" and to clean up the stains from a prior administration. "She was responsible for shepherding us to a higher standard of integrity, honesty and transparency," Franklin said. After eight years, Ginny returned to the state Supreme Court, as law clerk to Chief Justice Carol Hunstein. "She was so smart," said Elizabeth Stone, another Hunstein law clerk, "and so capable of cutting to the chase, boiling things down to: What's important? What does it mean? How do we fix it so it's pragmatic?" Ralph and Marjorie Knowles have been friends with Looney and Suitts since the 1970s at the University of Alabama. "She was dedicated to the public interest," said Marjorie Knowles, the first full-time dean of the Georgia State University Law School and now retired. "That's been her entire career. And that's the best I can say about anybody." "Both Ginny and Steve are real fighters for justice," said Ralph Knowles, a lawyer with Doffermyre, Shields, Canfield & Knowles. "Although Ginny is a very pleasant person, she is a real fighter - a fighter for good. She never went out to get credit for anything. She was a tremendously good person. The world will be a lesser place without her." The family has asked that memorial gifts go toward establishment of the Ginny Looney Summer Fellowship at the Southern Education Foundation, 135 Auburn Avenue, NE, 2nd floor, Atlanta, GA 30303.
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on June 29, 2014
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