John Walker Percy

From Bhamwiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

John Walker Percy (known as Walker Percy, born November 18, 1864 in Leland, Mississippi; died February 8, 1917 in Birmingham) was an attorney.

Percy was the fourth and youngest child of William Alexander and Nancy Irwin Armstrong Percy. He was tutored by William Greene in Mississippi and went on to earn a bachelor of arts at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee in 1883. From there he followed his father into the study of law and graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor of laws in 1885.

Percy came to Birmingham to practice law, and soon joined with James Weatherly in the firm of Weatherly & Percy. He served on the board of directors for the Berney National Bank in 1890, and transitioned to the board of the First National Bank of Birmingham.

He married Mary Pratt DeBardeleben, daughter of Henry and Ellen Pratt DeBardeleben, on April 17, 1888. The couple produced four children. LeRoy Pratt and Ellen survived to adulthood. Two others, Pratt and Walker Jr, died in infancy in 1897 and 1903. From 1901 the family resided at a large house designed by Wheelock, Joy & Wheelock at 2217 Arlington Avenue.

In 1905 Percy joined with Augustus Benners in the firm of Percy & Benners. The firm represented U.S. Steel in its purchase of the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company in 1907 and continued to represent TCI, with offices in the Brown Marx Building. Beginning in 1910 Percy was a director, and later vice-president, of the Corey Land Company which developed the city of Fairfield.

In 1911 Percy agreed to stand for election to the Alabama House of Representatives, where he was able to craft the legislation that enabled Birmingham to adopt a City Commission as its form of government. He also worked on legislation requiring law enforcement officers to collect salaries, rather than basing their pay on fees generated from arrests.

Percy suffered a mental breakdown, however, and served only for one term. He sought treatment for depression in Baltimore, Maryland. Percy's grandson, the future novelist Walker Percy, was born in May 1916.

On February 8, 1917, Percy was found dead in his upstairs room that afternoon from a shotgun blast to the chest. The death was publicized at the time as the result of an accident that took place as he was preparing to go on a hunting trip with his son, LeRoy, though it was also said by some that "melancholia" was the true cause of death. The family later discussed it as a presumed suicide.

Percy was buried at Elmwood Cemetery.


External links