Robert Sherrell, a long-time practicing attorney in Fitzgerald, has had a lot of nicknames. They were all given to him by people who loved him, and he has had most of these nicknames, if not all of them, for many years. Let’s hear it from him in his own words:
“‘TT’ came from the fact that when I was working in Atlanta after high school, we would go to parties and my friends would bet others at the party that I could stand flat footed, on the ground, do a front or back flip, and land on my feet. Then my friends started calling me “Tennessee Tumbler,” which was shortened to “TT.” Then, my friends Stan Gann and Sissy, now Sissy Gann, shortened it to “T Square.”
“‘Slick’ was a name I have been called many times. The person, when we were in law school, who called me that the most was Dick Tysinger, although he did not start it.”
“‘Shyster’ is an unflattering term originally given to me by a friend in Fitzgerald, and it stuck like glue. It is a term of endearment here in Fitzgerald, and I think I got it and it stuck because of my success in trying court cases in the courts in Georgia. Sometimes I get called ‘Ironside’ for the same reason.”
I’ve gotten your attention, haven’t I? And, I’m just getting started, but I should tell you that I won’t be able to fully cover, here, this interesting man who is one of my heroes, but is still just “Bobby” to me.
We met at the University of Georgia School of Law when we both entered in the fall of 1962. I never saw, and never have seen, anyone go to school with as little financial resources as Bobby had — or didn’t have. We ended up rooming together, along with the daily piles of laundry that he picked up in the dorm for a local cleaning company. He worked in the library. He worked at a collection agency. He scalped football tickets, which his friend and Georgia quarterback Larry Rakestraw helped him get. I’m just getting started. It gets more interesting.
Let’s back up closer to the beginning. Bobby’s family was Seventh Day Adventist, and there was no school competitive athletic teams because it was against the church doctrines.
“I wanted to go to the public schools and play football, but mother said ‘no,’” Bobby said, “so I grew up playing backyard football with several friends. I knew I could play and ended up at Presbyterian College. I had saved up enough to pay for one semester and was told if I made the team I would have a full ride. I ended up starting on the football team my junior and senior years. While at Presbyterian, I decided I wanted to go to law school. That goal was determined by my desire to make money. I played football, worked after school and stayed in the top 25 percent of my class so I could get into law school.
“My parents had very little money, and I was the first member of my family to own an automobile — a 1941 Ford for which I paid $135 when I was 17 years old.
“After law school, and before I had passed the bar exam, I was looking for a job where I could study for the exam, so I ended up playing in a new football minor league, South Professional League, with the Atlanta Mustangs. We would practice two nights a week and play on Saturday night. The other cities with teams were Chattanooga, Knoxville, Charlotte, Jacksonville and Daytona-Orlando.
“We played Jacksonville at the Gator Bowl Stadium and after the game we were paid for two games ($150 each) in counterfeit money, which was memorialized in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the headline ‘Mustang Owner Loose on Bond.’ I never got to spend any of it before the law confiscated it.
“I also lifeguarded at Daytona during the summers while I was in college.” This was memorialized by a full page picture of Bobby sitting in the lifeguard stand with a pretty girl walking in front of him in the July 26, 1959, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Magazine.
Bobby was also a Golden Gloves boxer and was hired by Georgia Attorney General Arthur Bolton when he graduated from UGA law in 1965 despite the fact that he didn’t meet Bolton’s usual requirement that, “you must be in the top 10 percent of your class.”
Bobby estimates that he has tried 275 to 325 cases in 60 to 80 of Georgia’s 159 counties “winning about 75 to 80 percent of them.”
Recently, Bobby and I crashed the birthday party of one of our favorite law school professors, Verner Chaffin, 97. Bobby talked me in to it. When we left the party, I told Chaffin that he’d better invite us to his 98th party or Bobby would probably talk me into crashing it. That’s his way. And, that’s why he was probably the most popular member of UGA law’s Class of 1965 — a class that the stars fell on. But he’s still just Bobby to me.
Larry Walker is a practicing attorney in Perry. He served 32 years in the Georgia General Assembly and presently serves on the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.