Quotes from Members of the Mercer Community About Judge Griffin B. Bell

Judge Homer Drake, Mercer alumnus (undergraduate and law), current chair of the Mercer Board of Trustees, and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge:

Mercer University has lost one of its most distinguished and respected graduates.  Mercer’s Board of Trustees and Mercerians everywhere are all saddened today as we mourn the death of our friend and colleague, Judge Griffin Bell. For many years, we have benefitted from his wise counsel, and we will sorely miss that in years to come. Judge Bell loved Mercer dearly and was extremely influential in helping the University become the great institution of higher learning that it is today. 

Judge Bell was my friend and mentor for a very long time, since his appointment by President John F. Kennedy as a Judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Throughout the ensuing years, he was a model to me of what a judge and a public servant should be.  

Judge Bell’s long and distinguished career as a lawyer, a jurist, and as a public servant constituted a perfect example of a life that embodied the finest elements of citizenship and one that reflected credit on the legal profession and on our country. 

This state and our nation do not often see a man of the caliber of Griffin Bell. We have all experienced a great loss.  

Nancy, Griffin, Jr. and all the family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Jim Bishop, Mercer law alumnus, member and former chairman of the Mercer Board of Trustees, and a Brunswick attorney:

I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of my friend Judge Griffin B. Bell, a noble American statesman, an extraordinary jurist, a great Georgian and a beloved husband and father. Throughout his life Judge Bell embodied an absolute devotion to this country and to its traditions of justice, freedom and responsibility. He served our nation with great wisdom, complimented by his subtle sense of humor. As a public servant Judge Bell led by example, which encouraged others to willingly follow his lead. An optimist by nature, Judge Bell faced this last challenge with the same confident spirit and courage he demonstrated throughout his life. Our thoughts and our prayers are with Nancy and all of the Bell family.

Daisy Hurst Floyd, dean of Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law:

Judge Bell's guiding hand and lifelong devotion to Mercer Law School shaped its development in a unique and powerful way. He cared deeply about the legal profession and the role of legal education in developing public servants. His life is an example to all lawyers and law students of the difference they can make in the world. Mercer Law School would not be what it is today without Judge Bell, and we will not be the same without him.

Nancy Grace, Mercer alumna (undergraduate and law), member of the Mercer Board of Trustees, and Host of CNN’s The Nancy Grace Show:

I have known many, many judges during my legal career. Judge Bell, without a doubt, was the most honorable of them all. He tempered his wisdom with humor and spoke not only from his head but from his heart. He will be missed sorely, but, as of this moment, heaven has become even greater.

David Hudson, Mercer alumnus, member and former chairman of the Mercer Board of Trustees, former law clerk to Judge Bell, and an Augusta attorney:

In the course of history, there are men and women who accomplish so much and are held in such esteem that they rightly can be described as "great." Judge Bell was such a great man. His public service is well known: Army officer in World War II, advisor to Governors and Presidents, Federal Appeals Judge, and Attorney General of the United States. His name was synonymous with integrity and solving the thorniest legal problems.

Equally compelling was his lifetime of volunteer service: chairing commissions and committees to solve international problems, to reduce crime in Atlanta, to promote better education, and to reform courts and legal procedures; providing pro bono legal counsel to a former CIA agent captured in Central America; and leading his beloved Mercer University as a 30-year trustee, as its Trustee Board Chairman, and as its all-time leading Financial Campaign Chairman.

The number of friends he made and the number of lives made better because of him are incalculable. A special gift he gave was counsel, encouragement and mentoring to young lawyers and aspiring lawyers. Some were at his law firm; some worked for him on the Court; others worked for him in the Justice Department; and others simply knocked at his door. They all owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. I know, for I am one of those.

In a 2005 essay that Judge Bell wrote about Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, he repeated words that Holmes spoke at the death of a friend in 1899, words we do well to remember now:

"At the grave of a hero who has done these things we end not with sorrow at the inevitable loss, but with the contagion of his courage: and with a kind of desperate joy we go back to the fight."

Richard N. (Doc) Schneider, Mercer law alumnus, member of the Mercer Board of Trustees and law partner at King & Spalding:

"No novelist -- not even Dickens or John Irving -- could have created a more memorable character than Judge Bell. He took the role of being a lawyer and transformed it into legend -- as a partner at King & Spalding, as a Lifetime Trustee of Mercer University, as our nation’s most beloved Attorney General, and in countless private and public adventures. Through it all, he was an endlessly enjoyable companion, a loving and funny man and a pure joy. It is remarkable that every man and woman who spent even a brief period with Judge Bell would cling to him and claim him as their hero forever. That’s how legends are made, and legends last forever -- and that will be the case with the great Griffin Bell."

Robert L. Steed, Mercer alumnus (undergraduate and law), life member of the Mercer Board of Trustees, and law partner at King & Spalding:

"In his last hours, as Judge Bell was lying in the bed in pain, he said, ‘I feel like I am dying inch by inch. In heaven, dying must be handled by committee. That is why it is taking so long.’ Even in his last breaths, he still had a tremendous sense of humor. This is a great loss for many."