Lewis Donelson III, titan of Tennessee and Memphis politics, dies at 100

Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, left, and Lewis R. Donelson III confer during the Memphis Jobs Conference on Nov. 3, 1981. Ron Terry is in background at left and Michael Rose is at back right. Donelson served as moderator of the four meetings. (Dave Darnell/The Commercial Appeal)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Lewis Randolph Donelson III, who helped shape the modern Republican Party in Tennessee and co-founded Memphis law firm Baker Donelson, died Thursday, according a statement from the firm. He was 100 years old.

The Memphis native started his law career in 1941 and later helped found Baker Donelson, which has grown to include more than 750 attorneys and public policy advisers in 10 states and Washington, D.C.

The Commercial Appeal reports that he helped revive the GOP in Tennessee in the 1950s, was elected as a charter member of the Memphis City Council in 1967 and served under former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander as commissioner of finance and chief operating officer from 1979 to 1981.

In a statement, Alexander called Donelson "one of Tennessee's most accomplished lawyers and finest public servants."