S. Shepherd Tate Celebrates 100 Years

Posted: December 19th, 2017

The attorneys and staff at Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston send their very best wishes to S. Shepherd Tate, who celebrates his 100th birthday today!  Not only do we honor this special day, we celebrate the wonderful life of our law firm’s co-founder and leader, whose extraordinary achievements and lifetime of leadership have been an inspiration to all of us.

“Shep’s exceptional dedication to every endeavor he undertakes marks his character and inspires all who know him. We at Martin Tate could not have had a better role model for a founder of this Firm,” said David Wade, a Director and Shareholder at Martin Tate. “Shep is a breath of fresh air, a leader embodying professional commitment and encouraging all his colleagues to be the very best they can be at the practice of law and in giving back to the community. His amazing success in life springs from his down-to-earth and completely open demeanor, whether working on important legal projects commissioned to him by the President of the United States or representing the humblest of pro bono clients. Like Will Rogers, Shep has never met a man he didn’t like, and he always remembers his name. Shep Tate truly belongs among the great ones who have toiled in the field of American jurisprudence.”

Mr. Tate is a native Memphian. He graduated from Memphis Central High School, Rhodes College (formerly Southwestern at Memphis) and earned his juris doctorate in 1942 from the University of Virginia School of Law – his grandfather’s alma mater.

After law school, Mr. Tate enlisted as an intelligence officer with the U.S. Navy during World War II. Beginning in 1944, he served his country in China with the Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO), an elite top-secret coalition of American and Chinese soldiers who worked to fight the Japanese.

After the war ended in 1945, Mr. Tate returned to his hometown and clerked for Judge John D. Martin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Cincinnati. There he met the love of his life, Janet Graf, and they were married for 63 years.

It was in 1947 that Mr. Tate co-founded Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston, the law firm that continues to bear his name 70 years later.

As an attorney, Mr. Tate specialized in trusts and estates and corporate law. But his involvement in the legal field went far beyond his person practice. He served as president of the Memphis Bar Association and the Tennessee Bar Association. In 1978, Mr. Tate was elected to the top leadership post among America’s lawyers as President of the American Bar Association, during which time he helped to develop standards for professional discipline and led task forces on attorney competence and legal advertising.

Mr. Tate unselfishly gave a lifetime of service to the Memphis community. He served as president of the Rhodes College Alumni Association, the Chickasaw Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the National Conference of Bar Presidents, the Episcopal Churchmen of Tennessee and the Memphis Rotary Club.

His awards and honors are numerous. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Award and the Silver Beaver Award from the Boys Scouts of America. He received the Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Rhodes College. Additionally, he received the Public Service Award from the Fellows of the Tennessee Bar Foundation Young Lawyers Division, the lifetime Achievement Award from The Estate Planning Council of Memphis, the Civic Recognition Award from the Memphis Rotary Club and the Lawyer’s Lawyer Award – a special recognition given by his peers in the Memphis legal community.

It is with deep appreciation and admiration that all of us at Martin, Tate, Morrow & Marston send our heartfelt Happy 100th Birthday wishes to Mr. Tate. We not only honor this special day, but we also admire and honor his full life of leadership and remarkable achievements.

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