James Head

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Judge James Wesley Head - SAVANNAH - Judge James Wesley Head, 86, passed away on June 9, 2014 at the home of his daughter, Theresa Head Turner in Lecanto, FL, after an extended illness under the care of Hospice of Citrus and the Nature Coast and previously with Gentiva Hospice in Savannah. A native of Nashville, TN, Jim and his mother moved to Savannah in 1942. He attended Benedictine Military School. While attending BC, he worked for the Savannah Morning News as an assistant to W.D. McMillan, Sports Editor. He also worked under the watchful eye of Mr. Miller, the editor of the News at the time. Leaving Benedictine after his junior year at age 17, he volunteered to join the regular Navy in 1945 while the war with Japan was still ongoing. While in service he graduated with his Benedictine class in 1946. Following boot camp at Bainbridge, MD, Jim attended the Navy Hospital Corps School. He graduated in December 1945. He was transferred to the Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia where he received certification as an x-ray technician. He then served at Jacksonville (FL) Naval Hospital. Jim subsequently served on the USS Macon, CA 132, in Norfolk, VA. During his travels with the Navy, he traveled to Rome where he and some of his shipmates were privileged to have an audience with Pope Pious XII. In September 1948 he received his honorable discharge. Having determined to follow a legal career, he entered Armstrong Junior College in the fall of '48. He was named the Most Outstanding Sophomore, received the silver A and was named to the permanent Dean's List. He graduated from Armstrong in June 1950. Later, from 1974 to 1975 he served as President of the Armstrong College Alumni Association. He entered law school at Emory University in 1950 and graduated in 1952 with an LLB degree. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1970. He passed the Georgia Bar while studying at Emory and was admitted to the practice of law in November 1952. He was a member of Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity, a member of the Honor Court and secretary of the Student Association. He joined the social fraternity Phi Delta Theta and served as house manager and President of the fraternity. He also served as President of the Emory Law Alumni Association in 1969-70. While attending Emory, he served as a law clerk for Eugene Cook, the Attorney General of Georgia. As such, he drafted legislation for the members of the General Assembly of Georgia and drafted legal opinions for the Attorney General. In 1952 he edited and compiled the publication of The Georgia Laws and Regulations Pertaining to Upland Game, Fresh Water and Commercial Salt Water Fishing for subsequent legislation overhauling the general fish and game laws of Georgia. On returning to Savannah to practice law, he joined the firm of Sullivan and Maner as an associate. With others, he later formed the firm of Findley, Shea, Friedman, Gannam, Head and Buchsbaum which later became Solms, Gannam Head and Buchsbaum. While in private practice, he served as an Assistant County Attorney for Chatham County. In addition, for twelve years he served as Trustee for Wage Earners for the Bankruptcy Court throughout the Southern District of Georgia. Jim was also an adjunct professor of law at John Marshall Law School, Savannah Division. In 1981 he received the Nu Beta Epsilon award as outstanding faculty member presented by the Class of 1981. Judge Head was an active member of both the state Bar Association and the Savannah Bar Association. As a member of the State Bar he served as Chairman of the Grievance Tribuanl E.J.C. 2nd Circuit and the vice-chairman of the Trial and Appellate Practice Rules Committee. He also served as a member of the Code of Professional Responsibility Committee, the Mental Health Committee, and the Law Faculties and Bar Committee. He was also on the Educational Committee of the Judicial Council of Georgia. As a member of the Savannah Bar Association, he was Past-President, Secretary and Treasurer. He was chairman of the Grievance Committee, the Law Reform Committee, the Library Committee and chairman of the Courts Committee. He was a former member of the American Bar Association, The American Judicature Society and the American Trial Lawyers Association. His judicial career began as Judge Pro Tem of Recorder's Court while serving as Assistant County Attorney. In 1974 he was appointed by the judges of the Superior Court to serve as the Judge of Juvenile Court, the first full time Judge of this court of Chatham County. He remained as such until May 1975 when Governor George Busbee appointed him the Judge of State Court following the death of Judge Edward Hester. He was elected Judge of State Court in September 1975 and was the sole judge for several years. Concurrently he served as Judge Pro Hac Vice of Superior Court trying civil and criminal cases. He also served in a like capacity as Judge of Probate Court from time to time. As Chief Judge of State Court he was appointed to serve on the Judicial Council of Georgia from 1980-82, during which time her served as the Council's secretary and treasurer. He was Past-President of the State Court Judges and Solicitor's Association. He was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia to chair the Rules Committee of the State Court Judges when court rules for the courts in Georgia were prepared and enacted by each court and approved by the Supreme Court. After the General Assembly passed legislation providing for two judges of State Court, Judge Head remained Chief Judge of that court until he was elected as Judge of Superior for a term commencing on January 1, 1985. As Judge of this court, he sat for one case on the Supreme Court of Georgia which was held in Savannah at City Hall. He retired as an active trial judge February 1, 1995, at which time he was appointed by the governor to be a Senior Judge of the Superior Courts of Georgia. He performed these duties until he retired from active service in December 2005. During his tenures as Judge, he attended judicial courses for limited judicial courts and general jurisdiction courts at the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. He was appointed to be one of two judges to represent Georgia, and one of 104 judges nationwide to attend the week-long Victim's Rights Conference. The conference was sponsored by the American Bar Association, the United States Department of Justice, the National Institute of Justice and the National Judicial College. It was the first of its kind for Judges of the fifty states. Jim enjoyed his Masonic work. He was a life member and Past Master of Landrum Lodge #48 and life member and 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Freemason. He served as Vice Chairman of the SGIG in the Valley of Savannah in 1988-89 and as Venerable Master in 1989-90. He was also a former President and past Secretary and Treasurer of the Masters, Wardens and Secretaries Association of the local Blue Lodges. Jim was a member of Alee Temple Shrine and a former member of the Royal Order of Jesters. Jim was formerly a member of the American Legion post 135, the Oglethorpe Hotel Golf Club, the Savannah Golf Club, the Elks Club, the Savannah Jaycees, the Savannah Chamber of Commerce, the Quarterback Club, the Forest City Gun Club and the YMCA Family. He served as a member of the Chatham County Democratic Executive Committee and as a director of the Inner City Center Association which was led at the time by the Reverend Samuel Clark. Judge Head was preceded in death by his wife, Helen Vail Head; his mother, Ruby Mae Head, and his daughter, Laura Head Thomas. He is survived by his daughter, Theresa Head Turner and her husband David, of Lecanto, FL and Laura's husband Michael E. Thomas of Savannah; his grandchildren Ashley Turner Sears (Wayne) of Minneapolis, MN; Kristin Turner Jones (Lance) of Maple Valley, WA and James Turner, MD (Kristen) of Winston Salem, NC and his great grandchildren Keiran Ward, Zachary Wan, Brenden Sears, Bayla Ward, Grace Turner, Jackson Jones and Wesley Turner. He is also survived by his daughters Alison Seckinger Crapse, her husband Matt and her children Branden and Danielle Thrift of Savannah; Lenora Seckinger Mesibov, her husband Paul and their children Rachel, Nicholas and Sarah of Tappan, NY and his son, Rowland B. Seckinger, his wife Marilyn and their children Rowland, Timothy (Melissa), Joel, Samuel, Emmanuel, Dianna Adams (Sam), Jonathan, Hannah Yifrah (Omri), Rebekkah, Naomi, Alyssa and Nicholas. The family will receive friends on Saturday, June 14, 2014, from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at Fox and Weeks on Hodgson Memorial Drive. A graveside service will be held at Forest Lawn Memory Gardens on Sunday, June 15, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to Wake Forest School of Medicine, Medical Alumni Scholarship Fund, Alumni Affairs, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, P.O. Box 571021, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1021 or to Hospice of Citrus and the Nature Coast, PO Box 641270, Beverly Hills, FL 34464. Please sign our on-line guest book at www.foxandweeks.com Savannah Morning News June 12, 2014 Please sign our Obituary Guest Book at savannahnow.com/obituaries.

Published in Savannah Morning News from June 11 to June 12, 2014
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