J. Willard Nalls
November 28, 1924 – October 23, 2004
On Saturday, October 23, 2004, J. Willard Nalls, Jr., of Sherwood, MD, formerly of Chevy Chase, MD passed away. Beloved husband of the late Margaret Mary Nalls; father of Michael Tad Nalls, Margaret “Meg” Davidson, Robert E. Nalls, Elizabeth A. “Betsy” Wiley, Thomas F. Nalls, Amy I. Cook and the late Willard Nalls, III; brother of James T. Nalls, Eleanor N. Sweeney, Malcolm P. Nalls and the late Michael A. Nalls. Also survived by 18 grandchildren. Memorial contributions may be made to Montgomery Hospital Society, 1355 Piccard Dr., Suite 100, Rockville, MD 20850.
Willard was admitted to practice in October of 1953 and was involved throughout the years on the following committees and sections: Estates & Trust Law Section, Mentor/Mentee Committee, Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, Designated Conciliator Program and School Mock Trials.
The many friends and colleagues in the Bar Association send their deepest sympathy to the entire family.
Memorial article by Austin Carlin will appear in the January issue of the Newsletter.
The year was 1954; the place was my office on Montgomery Avenue in Bethesda across from the Police Station. That was when I first was introduced to a young personable lawyer that had recently passed the Bar exam and wished to begin the practice of his profession in Montgomery County. He later started his practice at a desk in the corner of my office. At the time, he was married and had three children. To supplement this young lawyer’s income while he built his practice he delivered newspapers in the morning and also sold medical equipment. The man was J. Willard Nalls, Jr., affectionately later known by most as “Willard”. Willard soon became one of my best friends. Our friendship lasted for more than fifty years until his death on October 23, 2004. His death resulted from multiple myeloma and kidney failure and occurred at his daughter, Betsy’s home in Silver Spring.
Willard, a native Washingtonian, graduated from Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. in 1942. He subsequently enlisted in the U.S. Navy and became an aviator. He had orders to serve in the PacificTheater (Japan) but those orders were subsequently rescinded as part of the end of the war. After receiving his discharge from the Navy, Willard continued his service as a member of the Naval Reserve, ultimately retiring as a Commander. Willard also served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Civil Air Patrol and later as an observer after his retirement to the Eastern Shore.
Willard obtained his undergraduate and law degrees from George Washington University. Willard practiced in Bethesda for close to fifty years, specializing in real estate, litigation and estate and trust law. In 1974, Willard’s son, Michael, known by most as “Tad” joined him and the partnership of Nalls and Nalls was formed. Willard’s legal career also included serving as a substitute Judge in the Peoples Court of Maryland, now known as the District Court.
Willard was an active participant in the Montgomery County Bar Association, serving on the Executive and Ethics Committees. He also served for many years with distinction as a member of the Attorney Grievance Commission, initially when it was under the jurisdiction of the local Bar, and later at the state level. While serving he established a reputation for his fairness and thorough investigation of all matters to which assigned. He was later recognized for this service.
Willard’s conservative nature was not evidenced in his after hour’s activities. One in particular that he enjoyed was deep sea diving. His enthusiasm for diving took him to many parts of the world. On one occasion, he spent close to two weeks diving in the Bermuda Triangle with his son, Tad, at depths of up to 120 feet. The dives allowed them to view the wreckage of many vessels lying at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean, including a munitions ship sunk during World War I and a slave ship which, later was determined to have sunk in the early 1600’s.
Willard was part of a small alumni group of lawyers that all began their practices at 4641 Montgomery Avenue in Bethesda, which included myself, Archie Meatyard, Jim Hollis and Charlie Foster. The group spent many years going away together along with their spouses on the weekend of the Super Bowl, mostly to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and one time at Willard and his wife Peggy’s beautiful home on Harris Creek in Sherwood, Maryland. On these trips Willard was always in charge of the betting. I can vision him now sitting at his gaming table counting out the chips, with his green eyeshade as his trademark. He was in complete charge of the point spread for all the games being played during the weekend in true Las Vegas style.
Willard was also an avid Redskins fan. In his law office he prominently displayed a photograph of the entire 1939 Redskin Team. The photo was of the Sammy Baugh era.
Willard was a long time member of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He was also a member of Columbia Country Club and the Maryland State Bar Association.
Willard was predeceased by his lovely wife, Peggy, in 2002. They were a devoted couple. Willard also was predeceased by a son, J. Willard Nalls, III, who died in 1986. Survivors include six children, Michael ATad@ Nalls of Bethesda, Maryland, Margaret Davidson of Centerville, Maryland, Robert E. Nalls of Narberth, Pennsylvania, Elizabeth A. Wiley of Silver Spring, Maryland, Thomas S. Nalls of Bethesda, Maryland, and Amy L. Cook of Arnold, Maryland. Willard was also survived by two brothers, James T. Nalls of Rockville, Maryland, and Malcolm P. Nalls of Sarasota, Florida, as well as a sister, Eleanor Sweeney of Port Lucie, Florida. Willard and Peggy’s legacy includes eighteen grandchildren.
In the eulogy at Willard’s funeral, delivered by his brother, Jim, a story about one of Willard’s practical jokes, which he was prone to play, was relayed which I think is worthy of repetition. Willard and Peggy enjoyed the program on television known as Jeopardy. The program was recorded in advance and later transmitted over both the Baltimore and Washington Stations. The Baltimore transmission was one hour earlier than that in Washington. Willard knew this, but Peggy did not. As a result, Willard would view the show from Baltimore on his upstairs television set and would then later watch the same program with Peggy one hour later on the Washington Station. Needless to say, Willard knew all the answers to the questions and Peggy thought he was absolutely brilliant. Little did she know.
Willard and Peggy were long time residents of Chevy Chase, Maryland. In 1999 they permanently relocated to their residence in Sherwood where they spent many happy hours together. Their neighbors on the Eastern Shore included many other Montgomery County transplants, including Judges Sanders and Latham, and Judge Sander’s secretary, Emily.
Willard will always be remembered by the people who knew him as being a very honest and conscientious individual. He was dedicated to the highest principles in his practice of law. He was true to his profession, his family and to his God. Not necessarily in this order but he gave all he had to each category. He was a wonderful husband, father, friend and colleague and will certainly be missed by many.
E. Austin Carlin