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Memorial-Presley, Hanserd K.
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Hanserd Knollys Presley
1886 - February 9, 1961 


BY MR. FOSTER: Your Honors, for the Bar Association Mr. Joseph B. Simpson will present a Motion for Mr. Hanserd K. Presley. 

BY MR. JOSEPH B. SIMPSON: With the Court’s permission, today, the opening day of our October Term, I have, at the direction of the President of The Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland, the sorrowful duty to report to Your Honors the passing of one of our brothers at the bar during the last Term of Court. 

     Hanserd Knollys Presley, Esquire, who was born in Quitman, Georgia, in the year 1886, has departed this life in February, 1961. He was the son of William C. and Jennett Everett Presley and, in addition to his widow, daughter, and four grandchildren all of Los Angeles, California, he leaves surviving three sisters, Mrs. Jenet Gunderson of California, Mrs. Jesse Carter and Mrs. Anna Voorhies, residents of the State of Florida. 

     Mr. Presley attended Southern Training School in Graysville, Tennessee, studying business. While there he also taught shorthand, typing and courses on the Bible. He leaned toward and was interested in business in his early adult life and at that time most of his work was done with and for the Seventh-day-Adeventist denomination. He worked as an accountant in the New England Sanitarium and later became manager of that institution. He was auditor for the Seventh-day-Adventist work in four states, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan, and was responsible for the auditing of some twenty-eight offices. For four years he was cashier of the General Conference of Seventh-day-Adventists at Takoma Park, Maryland. In his business career there were exceptions to his work for and with the denomination of his religious belief, in that he was an office manager for a plumbing firm, office manager for a real estate firm in Washington, D. C., and treasurer of a company with manufactured many types of lights and medical equipment in Wisconsin.

      Quite late he felt the call to the law, only to discover that his school records had been destroyed by fire and were not available. Undaunted, he attended night classes at McKinley High School in Washington, D. C. White carrying on the duties and responsbilities of his regular employment, in one year he completed the courses required to establish his lost scholastic records. Then, by correspondence which required that he work far into the night, he studied law and was aided by the opportunity to further his legal education by reading law under Millward C. Taft, Esquire, a distinguished member of the bar of this Court and a former chief judge of the Orphans Court for Montgomery County. At 49 he was admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia. On January 23, 1942, he was admitted to the Bar of the Court of Appeals of Maryland. His practice was general. 

     He had a special interest in children for which he shall long be remembered. He was never happier than when engaged in an adoption case. He was associated with the adoption of a large number of children. 

     I am advised by Raymond Garrity, Esquire, an attorney in Washington, D. C., and a member of the Bar of the Court of Appeals of Maryland, resident in Calvert County, who is the president of the Kiwanis Foundation of the District of Columbia, that a memorial plaque in memory of our deceased friend, Hanserd K. Presley, is to be placed in the Washington Medical Center. This is a direct result of Mr. Presley’s great and special interest in children. He was not a member of the Kiwanis Club when he was consulted by a client, Mr. Victor Dulac, who desired to leave the residium of his estate to a worthy cause. He desired to ascertain what charity or worthwhile purpose would do the most good and be of the most effective benefit in the interests of children. Mr. Presley was commissioned to investigate, report and recommend, and it was his responsibility to designate the organization or institution that should receive the fund. Mr. Garrity advises that although at that time he did not know Mr. Presley, as a result of his considerable independent investigation it was determined by our deceased brother that the Kiwanis Foundation, for its outstanding work regarding children, should receive the fund. As a result, about $100,000.00 started the Clinic for Crippled Children, conducted by the Kiwanis Foundation. That fund has grown and an area in that great metropolitan hospital in our Nation’s Capital is now furnishing medical and orthopedic care and attention to crippled children. In gratitude the Kiwanis Club of Washington, D. C. made this non-member, Hanserd K. Presley, an honorary member. In lasting acknowledgement in the Crippled Children’s Clinic a tablet in his memory will be placed. 

     On July 19, 1915, Hanserd K. Presley married Miss Rena E. Craft at ther home in DeRuyter, New York. Mrs. Presley, who was a school teacher at the time of their marriage, served as legal secretary to her husband and worked with him until his death. Mr. Presley was the father of one daughter, Mrs. Ted Meyers of Los Angeles, California, who does him high honor there, where she practices her chosen profession as a physician under her maiden name, Phyllis L. Presley. 

     This good man, jovial, pleasant, courteous, kindly, highly motivated, rightly ambitious and hardworking, who came late to the bar, accomplished much in its highest tradition. On February 9, 1961, in his office, he suffered a heart attack and died as he had lived, quietly. Since Mr. Presley’s death his widow has moved west to be with her daughter and family and could not be here today. 

     May I, Your Honors, on behlaf of the Bar, and with your special permission, on behalf of the Bench, here express to the family of our departed brother our sympathy and condolences in the loss which they have suffered, and, Your Honors, I move to permit the recording of this memorial among the permanent Minutes of the proceedings of this Court, and further move that copies hereof be sent to the members of the family of Hanserd K. Presley, Esquire deceased, and to Raymond Garrity, Esquire, President of the Kiwanis Association of Washington, D. C., who has requested the same, and further, upon the conclusion of these proceedings, I move that the Court stand recessed or adjourned in memory of and in honor to Hanserd K. Presley and such other members of our bar as have departed this life in our past Term of Court. Respectfully, Joseph B. Simpson, Mr., on behalf of The Bar Association for Montgomery County, Maryland.


HON. THOMAS M. ANDERSON, Judge of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland: 

     Now, Mr. President, members of the Bar, members of the families and friends of those of our brothers who have departed, we feel that this Court Room is a proper place to pay tribute to three fine lawyers, outstanding men, whom we have lost during this past year. 

     The number of people assembled here, members of the Bar, the large number of members of the Bar, and the friends of those who have left us, speak better than we can ever speak as to the high esteem in which all these gentlemen were held. Each of the members of the Court held each of our departed brothers in the highest esteem. They were all honored members of this Bar and we greatly miss them and suffer from their loss; however, we have decided among ourselves that, in order to avoid repetition, that Judge Pugh and I will respond on behalf of the Court, as to Mr. Kelley; because we were on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County National Bank with him at the time of his death. Judge Shook will respond on behalf of Mr. Davis, and Judge Shure will respond on behalf of Mr. Presley, and may make a few remarks as to the other departed members. 

     Now, on behalf of the Court, I would like to say this, Tom Kelley, as he was known to me, was one of those rare persons that come along only in a generation. There was nobody that ever knew Tom Kelley that didn’t love him. He had rare personal charm. He had great intelligence. He had the highest integrity as a lawyer, and he had tremendous courage; more courage, almost than any man that I have have ever known. He had his adversities, but they never kept him back. He had indomitable will power and I have never known him, as long as I have known him, and I have known him since he was nine years old, I have never heard him ever complain about feeling bad; about any physical indsposition that he might be suffering from. He was always cheerful. He served in many high positions and rendered a great public service to the people of this County, and, as Mr. Bender said, it wasn’t for gain either. He only ran twice, to my knowledge, for public office. He was a Republican politically and, as we all know, and we have to be practical, Republicans are vastly in the minority in this County, but in the two times that he ran for office in this County, which was for Judge at the Orphan’s Court in this County, and for member of the County Council, he was both times successful. That in itself shows what the people of this County thought about Tom Kelley. 

     As devoted as I have been to the members of this Bar who have passed away, and as sad as the occasions have been, such as we have here today, there were two people in whom I felt the most tragic personal loss and who were both warm and close friends of mine. One was Bob Peter, one of the outstanding members of this Bar who was lost to us in 1951, and the other was Tom Kelley. When I say that Tom Kelley had a great heart, I think that is saying almost the least that I can say. He had one of the greatest hearts that I have ever known. He was a wonderful friend and a devoted father. His home life was just like his public life. It was jst without blemish, and he will go down in the history of this County as one of its great citizens. It is a great loss we have suffered. 


HON. JAMES H. PUGH, Judge of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland: I speak for Tom Kelley, because of my close association with him, as counsel and co-counsel on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County National Bank, and my close association with him in the practice of law. Tom Kelley was admitted to the Bar about five years after I was admitted, and during the time that he was actively engaged in the practice of law here I had occasion to be on opposite sides from him in trials of cases on a number of occasions. He always conducted himself as a gentleman, as a scholar and as an able adviser. When I worked with him as counsel and trust officer of the Montgomery County National Bank we worked very closely together. He was very able in the affairs that he conducted for the Montgomery County National Bank, which is an institution in which he really devoted a great deal of his devotion and affection. Next to the practice of law, from a business point of view, I think that Tom Kelley held the highest esteem and feeling for the affairs of that bank, and I had the privilege of serving with him in those two capacities. 

     We who have been born and are now blessed with all of our physical attributes; the ability to walk, ability to play golf, ability to play football in high-schools and colleges and tennis, we don’t realize what a man like Tom Kelley lost as a result of his affliction, but, as Judge Anderson has said, never did he show any feeling of remorse because of his physical disability. He was a very happy and ardent person; one who looked on the best side of life. As I recall the last time that I saw Tom Kelley I just stared at him and just stopped to realize what a little bit of man he was. What a frail body he had and to think that with everything that I have in the way of physical make-up that here is a man that had had only a third of what I had physically and he went along in life, in the practice of his profession and in every endeavor that he attempted, notwithstanding, and with a desire to either get the answer or to further his brother man or his organization, or whatever he was connected with. So he was really a blessed man, in my humble opinion, blessed because he had the amiability and the out-look on life that made him a great individual despite the small frame and the small body that he possessed, so I say in behalf of Tom Kelley we are very fortunate, those of us who have been closely connected with him, to have seen and been with a man of this calibre for the few years that he was on this earth, and I consider it a privilege to have tried cases against him, to have worked with him in business, and to have worked with him in other matters. His memory will forever be bright here in this Court, so I join with the rest of the Court and specifically with Judge Anderson who is responding in behalf of the Court to have this Motion spread upon the Minutes and all of our remarks sent to the members of his family.


BY HON. KATHRYN J. SHOOK, Judge of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland: 

     Members of the Bar and families and friends of our deceased brothers, this is , of course, a solemn and sad occasion when we contemplate the loss that has occurred to us in the past year. But it need not really be sad, for all of us must go. Now it should be pleasant, because we are recalling the pleasant things that we know about the members of this Bar who are no longer with us. I cann’t talk just about Jim Davis. I must say a word or two about Tom Kelley and Hanserd Presley. They were all friends of mine, as they were friends of the other members of the Court. There is one thing that all three of these gentlemen had in common and that is the greatest blessing of all, a great faith. Tom worked hard in his church and his great pride was his church. I know this, personally, because he spoke of it to me. Jim – well, Jim was a very prominent Catholic layman. We are of the same faith. I know Jim had a terrible loss, a loss in a fine young son, and I felt with him as he talked with me about it with tears streaming down his face. It was tears as far as his personal loss in that fine young man and the loss to his wife and the other children. He said to me “You know, my greatest comfort is that I will see him again. He lives. I know this.” He was not unfortunate as some who are unvelievers or non-believers, who have nothing to look forward to whatsoever. His great faith led him to carry on, with his lovely wife. As a matter of fact, in the following year they were blessed with two little girls, the sweet youngsters here today, the twins, and he said to me when he informed me of their birth “You see, Kathryn, the Lord taketh away, but the Lord also giveth, and here I have been given two-fold.” 

     He was a fine lawyer. I think the best that can be said of any lawyer is, as Bob Heeney has said, that he was a fighter. He knew the rules and he fought by the rules, and he did not care who thought what. He was respectful of the Court, but his chief concern was his client, and quite properly so. The Court certainly realizes this and no lawyer should ever be intimidated by any Court, and certainly this Court never tries to intimidate anyone, but it is good advise to any young attorney and Jim Davis, I am sure, gave it to the young members of the Bar who came to seek his advice. 

     It is with a great sense of personal loss that I say these words to you about Jim, because he was very helpful to me on many occasions; especially during my campaign for the office I now hold. But most of all I feel that I have lost a particular friend in Jim Davis, and in Tom Kelley, also. Unfortunately, I did not know Hanserd Presley as well as the other members of the Bar, but certainly from the memorial address that has been read by Mr. Simpson he was a wonderful man. All three of them had grat spirits and I am sure are now enjoying their just reward.


HON. RALPH G. SHURE, Judge of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland: 

     Ladies and gentlemen of the Bar and guests, we have been talking here about these three departed members, and it occurred to me what an extremely unusual occasion this is. We have three members who have left us, one of whom was not admitted to the Bar until he was 38 years old, having studied law late in life; another one who was not admitted to the Bar until he was 49 years old, Mr. Presley, and the third one under a great physcial handicap. All three of those situations are different thatn the ordinary situation we find involving an attorney. 

     I, of course, knew Tom Kelley best, because I came to this Bar in 1935. He was from the upper end of the County and I was from the lower end of the County and we started practicing at the same time and had many things to talk about and discuss and he was everything that has been said about him and more. I only reiterate, as far as Tom is concerned, that I never heard him complain. Anyone who knew Tom knew that he did, in fact, suffer and he ahd to be sad a great deal of the time, but you would never have known it because Tom Kelley never indicated to anyone that he was anything but feeling good and his sadness was kept unto himself. He never asked for sympathy, nor would he have wanted it if it had been offered to him. 

     He was a deeply religious man, as were the other two. All three of these gentlemen were deeply religious, in different faiths, but all three of them were very active in their church and were deeply religious people, and we are always proud to say that about members of our profession. 

     As far as James Davis concerned, Jim was, of course only at the Bar a few years and while I didn’t know him as well as I knew Tom, he was a lawyer that we were always proud to have in the Court Room because we knew he was going to fight just as fair as he could and he was always fair and an excellent lawyer.

      Mr. Presley came from Takoma Park, which until a few years ago was my home. I suppose Mr. Simpson and I know Mr. Presley perhaps better than most of the Bar, because we all came from the same town. Mr. Presley until he came to the Bar was very active in his church work and other charitable endeavors. As has been said, he was a very unselfish, kind and dedicated individual. He practiced mainly in Washington but he came out here on occasions during a great number of his working years, before he even decided to study law, and he did it a great personal sacrifice. I remember the last case that I think he handled was before me and he had never discussed his age, nor had there been an occasion to do so, but at that time I remarked that he did not look as weel as he had looked at the time I had seen him last and he said “Judge, how old do ou think I am?” and I said “Well, you aren’t too much older than I am” whereupon he told me his age and I was completely amazed that he was at his age still so active. He worked day and night and he was a very fine man, not only as a lawyer, but in many other charitable endeavors. So it is my great pleasure to talk to youa bout this gentleman and I extend my sympathy to the families of the three of them. These are great losses that we are talking about today, and I hope we won’t have to do this too often. 

BY JUDGE ANDERSON: Mr. Foster, is there any further business to come before the Court? 

BY MR. FOSTER: Nothing further from the Bar Association, Your Honor. 

BY JUDGE ANDERSON: The Court will stand adjourned.