Robert G. Pugh

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Robert Gahagan "Bob" Pugh, Sr.
Born (1924-08-25)August 25, 1924
Shreveport, Caddo Parish
Louisiana, USA
Died November 17, 2007(2007-11-17) (aged 83)
Nationality American
Alma mater

Centenary College of Louisiana

Louisiana State University Law Center
Occupation

Attorney

Gubernatorial advisor
Political party
Democrat
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Jo Ann Powell Pugh
Children

Robert G. Pugh, Jr.
Jean Anne Cottingham
Lamar Powell Pugh

Four grandchildren

Robert Gahagan Pugh, Sr., known as Bob Pugh (August 25, 1924 – November 17, 2007), was a prominent attorney in Shreveport, Louisiana, who, as his local bar association president in 1970–1971, initiated the first prepaid legal services plan in the United States. By the time that Pugh died of a lengthy illness at the age of eighty-three, some 43 percent of Americans were covered by legal insurance.[1]

Pugh and his older son, Robert, Jr., were the first father-son team ever to make oral arguments before the United States Supreme Court. Heavily involved in political, civic, and social circles throughout his city, state, and nation, Pugh amassed a lengthy resume of accomplishments and honors in a legal career of some fifty-seven years.

Pugh was an advisor to three Louisiana governors, including Democrat Edwin Washington Edwards, Republican David C. Treen, and Democrat-turned Republican Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer, III.[2] He also represented sports figures with their contracts, including Terry Bradshaw, Joe Ferguson, Pat Tilley, and Joe Delaney.[3]

In 1990, the Louisiana Bar Foundation presented Pugh with its 1990 Distinguished Attorney Award. He was listed in the publications The Best Lawyers in America, Who's Who in American Law, and Who's Who in America. He was also a fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.[4]

In 1972, Pugh was elected as a Caddo Parish delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1973, which produced the Louisiana Constitution of 1974. Among his colleagues at the convention was future Governor Roemer and former State Representative Frank Fulco of Shreveport. Another was future U.S. District Judge Thomas E. "Tom" Stagg of Shreveport, who served as one of Pugh's ten pallbearers. In the convention, Pugh authored many of the sections on local and state governments. In October 2004, Pugh and Stagg were jointly honored in ceremonies at the Petroleum Tower in Shreveport by their alma mater, the Paul M. Hebert Law Center of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, with the "Distinguished Alumnus Award". Pugh was the 2003 winner; Stagg, the 2004 recipient.[5]

Early years, education, military[edit]

Pugh was born in Shreveport to Orren Lamar Pugh and the former Eulalie Bernadette Wolf (1895–1989).[6] A member of the Boy Scouts of America, Pugh achieved Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow status. He graduated in 1941 from the Roman Catholic St. John's High School in Shreveport, where he also taught for a time early in his career.[7] In 1996, he was named to the combined St. John-Jesuit-Loyola Hall of Honor. While he was a St. John's student, Pugh taught himself how to perform with a baton and received a drum major scholarship to Methodist-affiliated Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport. He recalled having purchased his baton with $20 that he found.[1]

During World War II, Pugh joined the United States Army Air Corps, forerunner of the United States Air Force, and was the navigator of a pathfinder aircraft, which dropped paratroopers into Germany in Operation Varsity, considered to have been the largest such landing in military history.[1]

In 1946, Pugh completed his Bachelor of Arts degree from Centenary. In 1949, he received his Juris Doctor from the LSU Law Center. Thereafter, he served as president in 1977 of the LSU Alumni Association and was later named to the alumni association national board.[8] In 1993, the law school named Pugh to its Hall of Fame and an honorary member of Order of the Coif.[9]

Pugh practiced law in Shreveport from 1949–2006, when he retired because of declining health. During the Korean War, he was interrupted again by the call of military service. A navigator and intelligence and security officer, Pugh was honorably discharged from the USAF as a first lieutenant.[1]

Bar association leadership[edit]

Pugh was long active at all levels of the bar association. He was inducted as the state bar president in 1975 at the Palace of Justice in Paris, France, during the 150th anniversary celebration of the Louisiana Civil Code, which unlike in other states is modeled on Napoleonic law.[10] Pugh was membership chairman of the American Bar Association from 1977–1984, during which time the membership tripled.[7] He was the first Louisiana attorney to have served as president of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, which includes the presidents of the bar associations of each state and all of the larger local groups.[11] Pugh was the first chairman of the Louisiana Supreme Court Historical Society and the second president of the New-Orleans based Bar Association for the Fifth Federal Circuit, a voluntary bar association that serves attorneys admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He was a life member of both the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Law Institute.[9]

From 1992–1994, Pugh was president of the legal organization known as the American Inns of Court. The group presented him with its "Professionalism Award" because Pugh's "life and practice display[ed] the highest character and integrity, coupled with an on-going dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession and the rule of the law."[12]

Active in state government[edit]

In addition to advising governors, Pugh chaired the Governor's Commission on a Uniform Defense System, the Governor's Committee for the Study of Capital Punishment, and the Louisiana Indigent Defender Board.[7]

At the time of Pugh's death, David Treen, in a statement to the Shreveport Times, recalled that Pugh helped to formulate, without compensation to himself, the Louisiana Coastal Wetlands Environmental Levy, an effort to impose taxes on oil and natural gas that passes through the state's coastal zone.[13] Treen said that Pugh was "one of five attorneys who worked on it, and they concluded that it was constitutional and would pass muster before the United States Supreme Court. He did a great job. . . . He was very professional. I admired his uprightness, integrity, and ability."[14]

From 1974–1990, Pugh was a member of the Louisiana Board of Regents,[15] which governs state universities outside the LSU system. He chaired the panel from 1981–1983 and helped to craft the state's master plan for higher education. He was appointed to the board by Edwards, reappointed by Treen in 1980 and by Edwards once again in 1986.[9]

Pugh was also responsible for having updated Louisiana's juvenile law code. He authored the book, Juvenile Laws of Louisiana: Their History and Development.[16] Long-term friend James C. Gardner, the mayor of Shreveport from 1954–1958, said that Pugh's work "was tedious, and he did it almost single-handedly. He did it so well and early in his career that I think everyone has forgotten about it."[17]

A board certified tax attorney, Pugh represented the Louisiana Department of Revenue for more than thirty years.[1]

In 1973, Pugh began a long tenure as a special assistant attorney general to Democratic Attorney General William J. Guste, who had defeated the Republican Tom Stagg in the general election held on February 1, 1972.[18]

Appearing before U.S. Supreme Court[edit]

Pugh represented the State of Louisiana in five oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, once with his older son, Robert, Jr. (born 1954), in what was the first ever father-son team to have appeared together before the court.[19] According to Pugh's obituary in the Shreveport Times, Pugh's "homespun wisdom [displayed before the Supreme Court] delighted all America, even the sound-bite-saturated media."[20]

When the state Constitution of 1974, which he had helped to write, was challenged before the high court, Pugh developed a new procedural motion still featured in law books about Supreme Court practice. He was involved in landmark cases in election and redistricting law, trade regulation, securities, trusts and antitrust law, drug regulation, corporate law, sports law, and successions. He was widely recognized as an expert in both federal and state constitutional law. When Pugh argued before the Louisiana Supreme Court that the state should have class actions, the Chief Justice asked him to draw up the appropriate rules.[1]

Civic and society leadership[edit]

Pugh was also a member of the Citizens Charter Study Committee, whose work in the middle 1970s led ultimately to the mayor/council form of municipal government, which began in Shreveport in 1979. His friend James Gardner served on the first city council under the new charter. Pugh and other Shreveport leaders pushed heavily for four-year university status for LSU-Shreveport, which the Louisiana State Legislature approved in 1976. He authored the governing documents for the LSU Health Sciences Foundation in Shreveport and served continuously on its board.[1]

Pugh also served for a time as a professor of law and medicine at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport, founded by the late physicians Edgar Hull and Joe E. Holoubek.[21]

Heavily involved in Shreveport society, Pugh was a long-time member of the Kappa Alpha Order, Shreveport Club, Shreveport Country Club, Shreveport Yacht Club, Cotillion Club, and the Royal Order of Jesters. He was a founder and second president of East Ridge Country Club. He was a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.[1]

Last rites and legacy[edit]

In addition to his parents, Pugh was predeceased by two brothers and a sister. Survivors included his wife of fifty-five years, the former Jo Ann Powell; and children, Robert Pugh, Jr., and wife, the former Maura Querbes[22] Jean Anne Pugh Cottingham, and Lamar Powell Pugh (born 1962), all of Shreveport; and four grandchildren, Caroline Ann Cottingham, Christopher William Cottingham, Robert Gahagan Pugh, III, and McKenzie Querbes Pugh. Pugh and his two sons, both lawyers, were his partners in the firm Pugh, Pugh, & Pugh at 333 Texas Street in Shreveport, and daughter Jean also worked for the firm.[23]

A requiem mass was held in Pugh's honor on November 21, Thanksgiving eve, at his home church, Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Shreveport. Interment was in Forest Park Cemetery.

In addition to Judge Stagg, pallbearers included Donald M. Arnold, Ben E. Coleman, John D. Caruthers, Jerry A. Fielder, II, Thomas R. Hicks, George E. McGovern, IV, David Moore, Judge Charles R. Scott, and C. Stewart Slack. In addition to James Gardner, honorary pallbearers were Bess Kelley Black, Gene Grant, Dr. Ike Muslow, Dr. Ned Prothro, George W. Pugh, former State Senator Virginia Kilpatrick Shehee, and Donald Zadeck.[1]

The late Mayor James Gardner described Pugh as "a great person and a good friend. Bob and his wife were joys to be with. It was marvelous to be guests in their home. They made you feel so welcome. They were warm and gracious to the finest extent."[17]

References[edit]