Memorial ceremony held for deceased attorneys

By Kyla Asbury | May 13, 2010

CHARLESTON -- A memorial ceremony was held May 10 to honor seven recently deceased attorneys from the Charleston area.

Peter Anania, Robert Weinberger, Richard L. Earles, Larry L. "Buzzy" Skeen, Stanley E. Preiser, Chauncey Browning Jr. and W. Hale Watkins were all memorialized at the ceremony, which was held in Courtroom 4 of the Kanawha County Court House.

Chief Judge Tod J. Kaufman began the ceremony with a moment of silence.

A plaque was awarded to each of the deceased attorneys and was accepted by a close friend or family member.

Rudolph L. DiTrapano said Anania come to West Virginia from Italy when he was 7 years old and had been drafted into the Philadelphia Eagles in 1951, but declined to go to law school instead.

Anania died Sept. 22, 2009, at the age of 82. He was survived by his wife, Delores Anania, and their four surviving children and several grandchildren. He retired in 1988 and moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Charleston attorney Jack Kessler said he first met Weinberger in 1978 when they both joined Legal Aid of West Virginia.

"He was always responsible and dependable," Kessler said. "He had dignity and was always honest. I will always miss him."

Weinberger died Sept. 23, 2009, at the age of 58. He was a successful attorney for more than 30 years and spent the majority of his legal career in service to others through Legal Aid and then with the Attorney General's Office.

Richard L. Earles died Sept. 13, 2009, at the age of 58. He was a trial lawyer who suffered a yearlong illness. He served in the National Guard and was survived by his daughter and former wife.

Skeen died Sept. 19, 2009. Jim Cooper, a close friend, said Skeen was an accomplished author as well as an accomplished lawyer.

"I've known Buzzy since high school," Cooper said. "His memory will always stay with everyone who knew him. He was a loving family man and a wonderful friend."

Preiser died Dec. 17, 2009 of complications from chronic congestive heart failure.

Ted Cantor, a friend of Preiser's son, Monty, said there was never a time in his life that he did not know Preiser.

"He had a well-deserved reputation," Cantor said. "He not only did everything, but he did everything well. He took on all types of cases and no one could work a court room like he could."

Cantor said Preiser always loved teaching and always wanted to be challenged.

Browning died Jan. 1 at the age of 75. His son, Chauncey Browning III, said his father's life revolved around his family and his law career.

Browning, who was West Virginia Attorney General from 1969 until 1985, was the first attorney general to serve four terms in West Virginia's history.

"My father was well known and respected around the nation," Browning said. "He treated everyone with respect and was graceful in victory as well as in defeat.

Watkins died Feb. 2, after a decade-long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He spent the last two years of his life at the Columbus Alzheimer Care Center in Columbus, Ohio. He was born in Charleston, but moved to Washington, D.C., to begin his litigation career, only to return to Charleston years later. He retired in 1994, but continued to work for several years as a volunteer in the emergency room at Mount Carmel West Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

After the memorial, Albert F. Good, a Charleston attorney, was recognized following his retirement after more than 60 years of service. Good was presented with the "Judges Honor" award.

Kaufman said the deceased lawyers and Good would be remembered by all whose lives they touched.

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