Archived Story

Vosburgh remembered as ‘gentle giant’

Published 9:21pm Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Judge James Richard Vosburgh was remembered as a jurist, “gentle giant” and as a grandfather during his funeral Tuesday at Washington’s First United Methodist Church.
“As we remember Jim today, I think you are in for a special moment,” said the Rev. Danny Allen, senior pastor at the church.
Vosburgh, who died Saturday at age 80, was remembered by his grandson Brant William Vosburgh, who read a poem about his grandfather. The younger Vosburgh’s remarks made it clear he loved his grandfather.
“I enjoyed are time together looking at his knife collection. My granddaddy was one of my best friends, and I will miss him. … I enjoyed it when he would come out pier fishing with me,” he related.
Superior Court Judge Wayland Sermons recalled being 9 years old when he first met Vosburgh. From that point on, Vosburgh, a Republican, was an influence in his personal and professional lives, Sermons noted.
“Jim Vosburgh was a great lawyer who never backed away from a fight. Jim Vosburgh was gentle giant who loved his family, his political party, the Citadel and golden retrievers,” Sermons said.
“Jim came to Washington to practice law with John Wilkinson. He was an aggressive defender of his clients, and he challenged the state’s evidence in a case at every turn. He could always find something to make a defense. He once won a DWI by arguing that the officers who stopped his client leaving The Rebel tavern were picking on the poor man’s country club,” Sermons said, drawing laughter from mourners.
“Jim was a man of conviction and principles. After the Army, he deeply got in to politics and was part of the Republican Party’s voting observation team up in Madison County, North Carolina — a notorious county for corrupt elections,” Sermons said. “After being directed to leave by some of the sheriff’s henchmen, he refused and was arrested. His strong convictions cost him two days in jail, indicative of his strong will and dedication to his principles.”
Sermons noted that Vosburgh was involved with barbershop quartets, the music ministry at his church, served on the N.C. State Board of Elections and Beaufort County, coached youth sports, became an Eagle Scout and served as a scoutmaster at his church.
“His record of service to his community and state continued by his elevation to the bench as a Superior Court judge and later as an attorney for the N.C. Capital Defender’s Office,” Sermons said.
“So, today we gather to celebrate the life of an outstanding  lawyer, judge and community leader,” Sermons said.
Allen talked about Vosburgh being a man of faith.
“Jim had the knack for making me feel good, even when I though I was trying to help him do that,” Allen said. “I expect he did that to you, too. … Every day he went to work, I think he touched somebody’s life, affect their life.”

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