VOL. 125 | NO. 157 | Friday, August 13, 2010
Legal Community Remembers Apperson Crump Founder
By Bill Dries
Charles Metcalf Crump was remembered Thursday as an experienced attorney whose long service to the law influenced countless attorneys.
Crump was the city’s oldest and longest practicing attorney when he retired in 2009 from Apperson Crump PLC, the law firm he founded.
He died Monday at age 96. Funeral services were Thursday at Church of the Holy Communion with a private burial at Elmwood Cemetery.
Apperson Crump managing partner Richard Myers described Crump as “a strong moral leader in a profession needing such leadership.”
“His passing is a terrible blow,” Myers said in a written statement. “Our memories of him are cherished.”
Until his retirement, Crump worked daily at the law practice he built. And he remained vocal on a wide range of legal issues that reflected the wide range of his legal practice.
“I agree that a reasonable limit on punitive damages may be appropriate,” he said in a 2005 interview for The Daily News Law Talk feature. “However, I do not agree there should be a limit on compensatory damages. Lawyers do not create medical malpractice, but expose it.”
Crump earned his law degree from the University of Virginia after earning a bachelor’s degree at Rhodes College.
“Throughout my practice, I have attempted to follow both the letter and the spirit of ethical principles for the law practice,” he said in the 2005 interview.
“From my earliest recollection, the family told me I would be a lawyer,” Crump recalled.
Crump’s father was a cotton broker and first cousin to Memphis mayor and political titan E.H. Crump.
He was named for his grandfather, Charles Wesley Metcalf, the founder of Metcalf, Metcalf & Apperson in 1865.
Crump went to work for his grandfather’s law firm in 1937 after traveling through Europe after law school and witnessing the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany, even snapping a few pictures of Hitler at a Nuremberg rally.
Three years later, he and John W. Apperson founded Metcalf, Apperson & Crump, which was the predecessor of today’s Apperson Crump PLC law firm.
In his later years, Crump was known almost exclusively as a pillar of the city’s legal community. But he served in the Tennessee Legislature from 1939 to 1943 and was secretary of the local Democratic Party’s executive committee from 1938 to 1950.
But it was his experience in the hierarchy of the Episcopalian church that Crump felt was closest to government at the Constitutional level.
“It’s like Congress,” he said of the church and his involvement. “A lot of the original drafters of the Declaration of Independence were Anglicans. So, it’s not unlikely that our church government is patterned after that,” he said in a 2002 interview.
During the 1960s, Crump and the law firm fought against an “urban renewal” policy that demolished some of the city’s architectural gems, including portions of Beale Street.
He also helped found a community group that brought black and white Memphians together to talk about racial issues in the wake of the city’s 1968 sanitation workers strike.