Opinion Columns & Blogs

Judge Nunn, a job and life well done

Judge George Francis Nunn Jr. wears a size 13B shoe.

Trying to adequately cover Judge Nunn’s life and accomplishments in 700 to 800 words is about like trying to move Stone Mountain with one of Foster Rhodes’ Kubota front-end loaders. I’ll do my best.

George was born on June 1, 1944, and, as he says it, “five days before D-Day.” He won the lottery the day he was born with his parents, George Francis Nunn Sr. and Coralie Brown Nunn, plus his two older, wonderful sisters, Marjorie and Mary Sue. What a great family. A lottery winner indeed.

Like so many young Perryans, George started in a modest frame house on Swift Street and he, like at least seven other Swift Street youngsters, would become a lawyer. More on this later.

I vaguely remember playing with George on Swift Street as a child before he left Swift Street with his family. He was about 6 years of age. I was 22 months older. Little could George and I have imagined how our lives would entwine for the next 60 plus years and that we would remain friends beyond the three score and 10 mark.

George was educated in the excellent Perry public schools. He remembers with appreciation his eighth-grade math teacher, Malissa Tucker, and with affection his high school geometry teacher, Jackie Marshall, and his English teacher, Florence Harrison.

George was a good math student and thought he might want to be a math major in college until, as he says: “I found out that I would have to take physics.”

George was a good high school basketball player, and he and Dennis Fike, both at 6-foot-1, were the two tallest players on Perry’s 1962 state championship team. This is what George says: “With Dwayne Powell, the purest shot I ever saw, and Lee Martin, a great athlete and a great team leader, Perry won its 35th straight game in the Macon City Auditorium defeating Clinch County for the state championship, after having defeated Fort Valley in a closer game in the semi-finals.” George was selected to The Macon Telegraph’s All State team.

After high school, George was off to Emory University, following in the footsteps of his dad, his uncle Marion Brown, his two sisters and his cousin Sam Nunn. He graduated from Emory Law in 1969. After a stint with a law firm in Atlanta, he was back in Perry in 1972 with Sam Nunn, Jim Geiger and Lee Ramsey practicing law.

In 1986, George Nunn, attorney, became Judge George Nunn, when he was appointed to the bench by Gov. Joe Frank Harris. George’s appointment proved to be an outstanding one by Gov. Harris. After the initial appointment, he ran for re-election nine times and with opposition twice. Judge Nunn won the two contested races overwhelmingly.

Let’s see what he says about his judgeship.

Your most difficult case? “My toughest case came in my first year. It was a murder case with deep racial implications that got national attention. It was covered by CNN. Tickets had to be issued so that those wanting to attend and having tickets could find a seat. The trial lasted 31 days. At its conclusion, I figured that if I can handle this, I could handle anything.”

As a judge, you have great patience. Elaborate on this: “Well, Larry, it’s the way you and I were raised. All parties are entitled to their day in court. If they don’t get it, the system doesn’t work. I try to never make a lawyer look bad and I try to remember how it was when I was a practicing lawyer. It’s important to afford everyone, including lawyers, parties, jurors, bailiffs and witnesses courteous treatment.”

George, as you know, your sister, Mary Sue, and I were classmates, and she like you has a great sense of humor. Where did y’all get this? “I don’t know. I do know that my grandmother Bessie Houser Nunn, a missionary to China, wrote poetry and I discovered, recently, that she had a book of poems published. Perhaps those funny poems — some might say silly — that I wrote about my friends comes from her.”

What will you do when you stop being a Houston Superior Court judge? “I’ve taught Sunday School at the Perry United Methodist Church for over 40 years. I will continue this. I am going to participate in the Senior Judges program. I want to do more fishing in the future. I also like to play golf. My wife of 45 years, Janet, and I have two children, George Christopher Nunn and Jennifer Nunn Tarbutton, and five grandchildren. We want to spend more time with them. Janet and I like to travel and we’ll get to do more of that. I hope I don’t get bored. I don’t think I will.”

Judge George Francis Nunn Jr., wears a size 13B shoe. Those shoes are going to be mighty hard for someone to fill when George walks out of the courthouse as a Houston Superior Court Judge for the last time in December.

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: lwalker@whgmlaw.com.