Thomas Greer


Jr.DUNLAP Thomas Arthur Greer Jr., 89, longtime and esteemed jurist and attorney and a lifelong resident of Dunlap, passed away on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at Erlanger.He was the son of the late Thomas Arthur Greer Sr. and Ova McGuiness Greer of Dunlap. Greer was also preceded in death by his brother, Landon L. Greer; and sister, Thelma Greer Thompson. Greer was born on April 24, 1923, in Selma, Ala., and moved to Dunlap, at the age of 4, where he resided the remainder of his life. He became an avid reader of history and biographies at an early age, reading all of Jack London's books by the fourth grade, and reading "Plutarchs Lives", "Works by Plato", "The Wondering Jew", "Mein Keimp" and Alexander Stephens "Vice President of the Confederate States of America" by age 16. His intense love for reading, primarily history, continued the remainder of his life.He became interested in music at the age of 13, beginning first on the tenor guitar, then clarinet, and then finally the musical love of his life, the trumpet. He studied trumpet under the late Lynn Clyde Pryor of Jasper, a graduate of Juilliard School. He carried his trumpet with him after enlisting in the United States Navy in 1942 and continued to play in a Navy band before being deployed overseas. His trumpet even accompanied him on a ship to the South Pacific in 1945, and after World War II while attending law school, he played in a dance band on weekends.Greer served in the United States Navy from 1942 until 1946, and served in World War II in the South Pacific in 1945, assigned to LST 1138 Group Staff 101, Amphibious Forces, where he served as a First Class Petty Officer. After the war, Greer and his crew made several naval trips to Japan before returning to the states.After the end of World War II, Greer attended law school at the Cumberland School of Law in Lebanon, Tenn., in 1946 and 1947, and upon graduation was admitted to the Tennessee Bar shortly thereafter where he remained a member for 65 years until his death. Greer returned to Dunlap in 1947 and began the practice of law. In 1953, he was appointed as county judge at the age of 30, the youngest county judge in the state of Tennessee. While continuing to practice law, he served as county judge and Juvenile judge for 17 years until he was appointed to the Circuit Court bench in December of 1970 by then Governor Buford Ellington.Although continuing to practice law while he served as county judge, under his leadership, Sequatchie County was able to achieve milestones in its development. In 1953, he led the county to appropriate funds to construct a 10-bed hospital, which later expanded and continued to serve the community until 1993. Under his leadership, the county's first major industry, Spartan Industries, commonly known as Dunlap Shirt Factory, began to flourish until it peaked at an employment of over 1,000 workers. In 1959, he proudly lead the way to the establishment of the Sequatchie County Public Library, which continues to serve the Dunlap and Sequatchie County community today. In 1961, Greer was elected as president of the Sequatchie Valley Planning and Development Agency, where he served for nine years on the Regional Planning Commission to aid in the economic development of Bledsoe, Sequatchie, Grundy and Marion Counties.In 1963, Greer was instrumental in organizing the U.S. Highway 127 Association, an association comprised of heads of counties along Highway 127 in Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, to which he was elected chairman. With the assistance of U.S. Senators Estes Kefauver, Albert Gore and others, this Association was successful in getting state Highway 127 designated a U.S. Highway, which brought vast financial support and improvement to the Highway 127 roadway system from Chattanooga to Cincinnati.Greer joined the Masonic Order in Dunlap in 1948, and became a 32nd-degree Mason and a Shriner with Alhambra Shrine in 1962. He was later ordained a Knight's Commander and awarded the 33rd-degree, which is the highest degree in the Masonic Order.After practicing law for 23 years, Greer was appointed Circuit Judge of the 12th Judicial District to complete the term of retiring Judge Sam Polk Raulston. Greer then served the 12th Judicial District, initially seven counties and later six counties, from December 1970 until his retirement in January of 1994, when he was succeeded by now Circuit Judge, J. Curtis Smith. Upon his retirement from the Circuit Court bench, Greer returned to the practice of law with his son, Steve, and associate, Russell Anne Swafford.Greer saw two of his grandchildren follow him in his profession. He was present before the Tennessee Supreme Court when his granddaughter, Elizabeth Greer Adams, was sworn in to practice law in 2003, and was present again before the Supreme Court in 2005 when his grandson and namesake, Thomas Greer, was sworn into the practice of law. Greer was joined in the practice of law by his granddaughter, Elizabeth, in 2003. One of his proudest moments was to help his granddaughter, Elizabeth, try a criminal case and see a not guilty verdict returned for their client. He remained a part of the Greer law firm up until his death.During his tenure as a practicing attorney from 1947 to 1970, he served as the Dunlap city attorney, Sequatchie County attorney and later Juvenile judge after being appointed as County Judge in 1953. He was a member of the Tennessee Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the American Judicature Society, and a past member of the Tennessee Association of Justice, formerly Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association.Greer was instrumental in organizing the Tennessee State Trial Judges Association and served as its first president for its first two years of existence. Greer served on the board of directors of Mountain Valley Bank, formerly Sequatchie County Bank, for 40 years, and was a member of the Dunlap Lion's Club for over 50 years. Since the end of World War II, he has been a member of the American Legion and the VFW.Greer was a lifelong member of First Baptist Church of Dunlap from May 1933 until his death. He taught Sunday school for 60 years and served on the Board of Deacons for over 50 years.Greer is survived by his wife of 67 years, Lota Applewhite Greer; children, Stephen T. (Susan) Greer, of Dunlap, Tenn., Dr. Patrick R. (Becky) Greer, of Winchester, Tenn., and Dr. Michael S. (Vallerie) Greer, of Chattanooga; 10 grandchildren, Jessica Greer Matukewicz, Elizabeth Greer Adams, Thomas Greer, Patrick Greer, Hamilton Greer, Rachel Greer Domizioli, Michael Greer, Zach Greer, Steve Greer and John Greer; 10 great-grandchildren; nephews and niece, Lee Greer, Lyle Greer, Jimmy Thompson, Wed Greer and Lynn Rogers; and special friend, Earl Hill.Visitation is today one hour before the service at Dunlap First Baptist Church.The funeral will be at 2 p.m. CST today, Dec. 2, at First Baptist Church, Dunlap, with Dr. Gary A. Anderson officiating.Pallbearers will be the grandchildren.Honorary pallbearers will be members of the 12th Judicial Bar Association.Burial will follow at Rankin Cemetery, Dunlap.In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Sequatchie County Public Library, 227 Cherry St., Dunlap, TN 37327, and American Lung Association, 1301 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Suite 800, Washington D.C. 2004.Arrangements by Ewton Funeral Home, 6936 Highway 28, Dunlap, TN (423-949-2112)

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