William Lawrence Tunnell, an alternate Oak Ridge city judge who was believed to be the oldest practicing attorney in Tennessee, died September 5. He was 95.
His family will have a receiving of friends for Tunnell, who was also a World War II veteran, on Tuesday, September 15.
Earlier this year, Tunnell was said to be the oldest judge in Tennessee.
Tunnell was born and raised in the Marlow community, according to his obituary. He was a faithful member of Poplar Creek Baptist Church and most recently attended Batley Baptist Church, his obituary said. He was proud of his farm in Marlow.
Tunnell graduated as the valedictorian from the last class at Robertsville High School in 1942.
He was drafted by the U.S. Army and sent to the Persian Gulf as a corporal, and he served for three years in both Iran and Iraq. During his time there, he was promoted to sergeant major.
Upon his return from the Middle East, Lawrence entered the University of Tennessee, completing his undergraduate studies, followed by a degree from the University of Tennessee Law School, the obituary said.
In 2004, while practicing as an attorney and special judge to the city of Oak Ridge, he was awarded the nation’s highest civil award, the Medal of Freedom, by the United States Senate. The medal is presented to those individuals having made meritorious contributions, for the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, to cultural, or other significant public or private endeavors, the obituary said.
More recently, Tunnell could often be spotted near the Tunnell Building on Oak Ridge Turnpike in Oak Ridge.
The obituary said he was preceded in death by his parents William Oscar and Mallie England, sister Blanche Coleman, brother James Thomas, and his only son James Thomas Tunnell.
He is survived by his wife Margie Gooch Tunnell; sister Faith Tunnell Andrews and her husband Pelham Andrews; nephews Bill Andrews and his wife Becky, and Phil Andrews and his wife Patty; great-nephews Phillip, John, Robert, Bradley, and Benjamin Andrews; and stepsons Michael and Stephen Gooch.
Tunnell’s family will receive friends at Weatherford Mortuary on Tuesday, September 15, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. A memorial service will follow with Stephen Gooch officiating. There will be a private graveside service at Anderson Memorial Gardens.
The obituary said Tunnell and his family would like to recognize Brandt Hill and Robert Wilkinson for their loyalty and friendship.
At Tunnell’s request, in lieu of flowers, please send donations to: Batley Baptist Church, 670 Batley Rd, Clinton, TN 37716.
You can sign an online guest book here.
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