A number of campus and community members gathered today to celebrate the portrait unveiling of the late Article III U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. at Kent Wyatt Hall on the campus of Delta State University.
Pepper, who resided in Cleveland and was loved by many in the community, passed away suddenly on Jan. 24, 2012.
Among the distinguished guests were Pepper’s wife, Virginia “Ginger” Brown, and son, William Allen Pepper III.
William said of his father, “He once said he had the greatest job in the world and he meant it. He talked about the love for every case that came his way.”
Also in attendance was retired U.S. Senator from Mississippi Trent Lott and five Article III U.S. District judges: Chief Judge Michael Mills, Judge Sharion Aycock, Judge Debra Brown, Judge Neal Biggers and Judge Glen Davidson.
Magistrate Judges S. Allan Alexander, David Sanders and Jane Virden also spoke praise of the former leader.
Portrait artist Jason Bouldin, discussed the bright yellow background of his portrait, symbolically representing the positivity that Pepper brought into the lives of others — a way to reflect on life worth celebrating and remembering.
Closing remarks were provided by Ginger, who spoke of all the fond memories shared with Pepper’s former friends, neighbors and colleagues.
Pepper, who worked at the U.S. Courthouse in Greenville, was appointed to the position of U.S. District Judge in 1999 by then President Bill Clinton. His portrait will permanently hang at the Greenville courthouse.
The Pepper family also made the notable announcement of its donated collection of the judge’s professional and personal memorabilia that will be stored at the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives & Museum on Delta State’s campus.
Emily Jones, university archivist, helped organize the plethora of photos, letters, documents and framed resolutions included in the compilation.
“I know the significance of a collection such as this being added to the archives at Delta State,” said Jones. “We have several collections in house related to politicians and lawyers — but to have a collection of papers from a judge of this caliber is something we are definitely honored to add.”
While Pepper did not complete his education at Delta State, he was a long time supporter and friend of the university. He was a graduate of The University of Mississippi, where he was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1963.
Pepper received his Juris Doctor degree from The University of Mississippi School of Law in 1968 and maintained a solo law practice for 30 years prior to his appointment to the bench.
He also served two years as an officer with the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army.
Along with being an exceptional attorney and judge, Pepper was a dear friend to many in the community and tried to live as an exemplary leader. He served as president of the Lions Club, Crosstie Arts Council and the Bolivar County Ole Miss Alumni Association. Additionally, he was the vice president of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce and worked with local Cub Scouts as a scout master, Habitat for Humanity, and a number of other community organizations.
Pepper had long ties with the First United Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday School for 12 years and served as chairman of the Administrative Board, Finance Committee and Pastor Parish Relations Committee.