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My Dad: Judge Foy Guin

My Dad, Judge Junius Foy Guin, Jr. turned 80 on Feb. 2, 2004! Amazing, isn’t it. You get busy and turn around one day and a decade or two... or three(!) have passed! It is high time that I told what I know about my Daddy.

[Daddy passed away around 8 am on Tuesday Nov. 8, 2016 at age 92. He faded away after a fall in June that fractured his femur. Keeping weight off that leg meant bed rest for 6 week, which was devastating for him. Senator Richard Shelby (AL) had his obituary entered into the Congressional Record Icon: Off site, along with some very kind comments of his own.]

PowerPoint Slide show from the memorial service (12 MB)


Foy Guin - 1949

Foy Guin - at Welcome Ceremony on installation as a federal judge

Foy Guin - official portrait for the courthouse as federal judge

1949, age 26
So handsome, don’t you think?

At Welcome Ceremony when installed as a federal judge, 1973

Official portrait as federal judge,
Northern District of Alabama

Foy Guin - 1959 - pooped in Yellowstone

Foy Guin with wife Dorace, children Judy and Jay. Janet took the photo.

Foy Guin - 1981- with granddaughter Beth

Clowning around at Yellowstone, 1959
Too pooped to pop

1959 with wife Dorace, children Judy and Jay
I was taking the picture with my little Brownie camera. We children had never seen this much snow!

with granddaughter Beth

Disclaimer: The facts that I think I know may be wrong! (Hard to believe, but there it is!) I’ll try to correct errors, but for now, I am putting down my memories and my own understanding of things, such as it is.

His History:

Early: Daddy was born in Russellville, Alabama, in 1924, and grew up there in one of the nicest houses in town. What does that mean? It had a fireplace in every room and walk-in closets! He played baseball and learned to switch hit. He loved ice cream... and ate it a half-gallon at a time! He was called Sonny by friends and family. (Certainly beats Junius!)

War service: He went to the University of Alabama and then to U of A Law School, but World War 2 interrupted his studies. He served in the 144th Infantry regiment as a training and communications officer.  He missed D-Day while in OCS. He missed being sent to Okinawa because he was in Anti-tank Mine and Booby Trap School. He missed the Battle of the Bulge when his whole regiment was misplaced at Camp Swift. He damaged his hearing with the rifle shooting.

During his war service, he met his future wife, Dorace, while stationed near her school, U. of Texas in Austin. They married after knowing each other for 6 months (a lot of it apart) while he was on his way to Chinese language school in California to prepare to be a liaison with the Chinese army. The train trip to California was a free honeymoon! The war ended before the course was finished.Their stay in California left him with a life-long hatred of Spam. Too much of it for too long!

Post war: After getting out of the army, he finished law school, went back home, and began practicing law with his father, J. Foy Guin, in Russellville, Alabama.

Politics: In 1954 Daddy ran for the US Senate in Alabama. This was in a time period when no Republican candidate had a breath of hope of winning any office in Alabama. He was a sacrificial lamb. He actually did win a few precincts and 18% of the total vote, having spent a grand total of $50 on the campaign! His precincts were in old line Republican areas in counties like Winston and Franklin, plus a new Republican precinct in Mountain Brook. He also won a precinct in Lamar County, where his grandfather, Jason Guin, had been sheriff and was still remembered. Eight years later, Red Blount, former Postmaster General, spent a million dollars campaigning for Senate but only added 13% more, winning 31% percent of the votes! So it's not all in the dollars!

Judgeship: In 1973, after many years of effort on the part of many people, Daddy was appointed to be a federal judge for the Northern district, in Birmingham, Alabama. He had a number of cases that got public attention, including the Birmingham schools desegregation case. He is now a senior judge, which means he can pick and choose how much and what kind of work he wants to do.

My Own Memories

Reflexes: I remember rough-housing with Daddy as a little girl and playing (losing!) the hand-slap game, where you lay your palms over each other's and the one on bottom tries to smack the top of the other person's hand. Quick reflexes needed! Stubbornness does not really help, but it did guarantee that my hands were red and hurt all too often.

Another measure of Daddy's quick hands - stick your tongue out at him and he will grab it... and hang on! Even now! Amazingly, frustratingly fast!!

Boxing: I remember when guys would come over to watch boxing with Daddy. We had one of the few TVs in town. I sat in Daddy's lap and boxed right along with the fighters.

Family trips: Daddy and Mother took us on family vacations in the station wagon for 3 weeks at a time... with 3 and 4 children. How did they stand it!? He was on the board of directors of a small church school in Idaho, Magic Valley Christian College. We got to tour the West on our way to and from the June board meetings. We also went to several of the World's Fairs - Seattle, Montreal, New York. Excellent, educational trips. I still like museums!

There were, of course, bad parts to this kind of travel. Car sickness and my annoying siblings in the back come to mind. Then there were those conversations in the front seat that I could not quite hear! So unfair!! I am sure they were more interesting than what I could hear of my brother and sister squabbling in the third seat in the rear.

Golf: Daddy is very fond of golf. He was instrumental in getting a course built in Russellville, so he wouldn't have to drive all the way to Florence to play. He is currently shooting the best golf of his life and even shooting his age at times. He taught me to golf, more or less, at age 10. He took me to the par 3 lighted course one night. I swallowed a moth and never felt quite the same about golf.

On time? Growing up, we all learned that Daddy would not be on time anywhere... except to court! Not to church (where he was the Sunday school teacher so they couldn't start without him), not to a party, and not to dinner. We learned that, amazingly, he did not mind a cold dinner as long as he could get another ham radio location checked off his life-time list.

Missions: Daddy was the missions deacon at church and really encouraged supporting their work. Visiting missionaries always stayed at our house. They told such interesting stories and sent cool gifts, like rugs, masks, and letter openers from exotic foreign places.

What I learned from Daddy

It's hard to figure out how you got to be who and what you are. But there are a few things that I can see came from my Dad:

  • Most everything is interesting - but especially history and science.
  • Don't believe everything you read. It all sounds good until you read the other side!
  • Work hard.
  • Take responsibility.
  • Strive for excellence.
  • People in authority may not be fair or righteous.
  • The more power you have, the more careful you should be about how you use it and the higher the standard that you should meet.
  • Help others.
  • Defend the little guys.
  • God IS over all. Study and learn to know Him.
  • No one is right all the time, but daddies come closest.

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