William Augustus Bootle

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William Augustus ("Gus") Bootle (August 19, 1902 – January 25, 2005) was an American attorney and jurist noted for helping oversee desegregation in the Southern United States.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Bootle was born in Walterboro, South Carolina. He and his family move to Nashville, Georgia in 1917 and to Reidsville about six months later. However, he spent most of his life in Macon, where he was a longtime member of the First Baptist Church of Macon. He graduated from Mercer University with an Bachelor of Arts in 1924 and from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University with a Bachelor of Laws in 1925. There he was a member of Phi Delta Theta.

Legal and academic career[edit]

From 1925 to 1928, Bootle had a private practice in Macon; in 1928 he was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney by President Calvin Coolidge, serving at this post for two years. From 1929 to 1933 he was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. During the same period, Bootle was a part-time professor at Mercer University (1926-1937) and later acting dean (1933-1937).

From 1933 to 1954, Bootle resumed private practice in Macon. On May 3, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated him to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia to the seat vacated by Abraham B. Conger.

Bootle was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 18 and was commissioned on May 20. Bootle served as chief judge of the court from 1961 onward. On March 11, 1972, he took senior status and continued to hear cases part-time until 1981. Bootle ordered the first admission of an African-American to the University of Georgia in 1961 (Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter).

In 1982, Bootle was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Mercer University.

Death and legacy[edit]

Bootle's wife of more than 70 years, Virginia Childs Bootle, died on June 24, 2004. Bootle died at his home in 2005 at the age of 102.

The federal building and courthouse at Macon, Georgia was renamed the William Augustus Bootle Federal Building and United States Courthouse in June 1998.

References[edit]

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