The Methvin-Cunningham-McManus-Swartz Family:Information about DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Jr.
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DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Jr. (b. 07 Nov 1924, d. 26 Sep 2005)
|DeWitt T. Methvin, Jr.|
DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Jr. (son of DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Sr. and Myrtis Lucille Gregory) was born 07 Nov 1924 in Alexandria, LA, and died 26 Sep 2005 in Alexandria, Rapides Parish, LA.He married (1) Lallah Hill Cunningham, daughter of William Peyton Cunningham, Sr. and Mildred Rosalind Hill.He married (2) Frances Phillips.
Notes for DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Jr.:
Obituary, September 28, 2005:
DeWitt T. Methvin, Jr.
November 7, 1924– September 26, 2005
DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Jr., age 80, an attorney in Alexandria since 1950, died at Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital on Monday morning, September 26, 2005, following a heart attack.He had been hospitalized since early September with heart problems.
He was born in Alexandria on November 7, 1924, to the late DeWitt Sr. and Myrtis Gregory Methvin.He grew up in Castor, Bienville Parish, Louisiana, where his mother served as mayor from 1933 to 1945 – the first female mayor in the state of Louisiana.Methvin graduated from Castor High School in 1940, where he competed for two years on the highly respected Castor High debate team.
At age 15, he enrolled at LSU in the fall of 1940 with the goal of becoming a doctor.After a stint skinning monkeys for the medical school, however, he renounced his mother’s dream for a future in law.World War II intervened, however, and on his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the Navy, where he earned his pilot’s wings, and later served as an aviation gunnery instructor, second class.He was stationed at Rochester and Loudonville, New York, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Roseville, Michigan, and Oakland and Santa Rosa, California.Methvin was discharged on May 16, 1946 and returned to LSU to study pre-law the following month.He graduated from LSU Law School in May, 1950, having won the Moot Court competition in each of his three years at the school, including the final competition held his third year.
Methvin and his former wife, Lallah Cunningham, married on October 7, 1950, in Natchitoches, and soon after moved to Alexandria because there were fewer lawyers there than in other areas of the state.He set up a solo practice and served as Assistant District Attorney from 1953 to1955.In 1955, he was elected president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce.The same year, he joined the law firm of Gist, Thornton and Murchison, which later became Gist, Methvin and Trimble, and finally, Gist Methvin Law Firm.Methvin was in the process of closing his practice after 55 years when he passed away.He served as President of the Alexandria Bar Association in 1963-1964.
Methvin was a trial lawyer of remarkable skill.A man of few words, his cross-examinations were brief and to the point.If he had nothing to gain from a witness, he was able to say the two most difficult words known to litigators: “no questions.”He served as president of the Alexandria Bar Association in 1963-1964, earned the highest “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and was a member of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers.From 1972 to 1981, he served as the first chair of the Louisiana Board of Ethics for Elected Officials.
Methvin is survived by his wife, Frances Phillips Methvin, his former wife, Lallah Methvin, Shreveport, LA, four daughters and a son:L’Anne and Joe Sciba, Plano, TX, Mimi and Jim McManus, Lafayette, LA, Lisa and Jay Murrell, Shreveport, LA, DeWitt III and Stacy, Houston, TX, Mary Ceil and companion James Holloway, Boone, NC; twelve grandchildren, Matthew (Mikki) Sciba, Richmond, Texas, Drew Sciba, Colorado Springs, CO., Lauren Sciba, Plano, Texas; Val, Richard and Lise Murrell, Shreveport, LA; Christine McManus, Atlanta, GA, Matthew (Olivia) McManus, Keller, Texas, John McManus, Spencer, MA, Michael and Connor McManus, Lafayette, LA; Chip Methvin of Houston, TX, one great-grandchild, Analise McManus, Keller, TX; and two sisters, Beverly Warren, Castor, LA, and Pat (Glenn) Ham, Fairbanks, LA.He is further survived by nieces, nephews, other relatives and many friends.He was preceded in death by his parents and several close friends, whom he missed dearly.
Funeral services for DeWitt T. Methvin, Jr. will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 29, at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church, Elliott & 21st Streets.Reverend Dan O'Connor and Reverend John H. Cunningham, will officiate.Visitation will be held at Kramer Funeral Home, 2905 Masonic Drive on Wednesday, September 28, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m., with a Rosary at 6:00 p.m.Pallbearers will be Glenn Ham, Bill Phillips, Joseph P. Cunningham, Sr., George Phillips, Conrad Blanchard, Joe and Matthew Sciba, Jay Murrell, and Jim, Michael and Connor McManus.Honorary pallbearers will be Gus Voltz, Jr. and Ed Ware.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society, or any charity of your choice.
We would like to thank all of the staff of Rapides General Hospital and Christus St. Francis Cabrini Hospital.
From "Grandparents Project" by Connor Hill McManus, 2003:
My grandfather on my mother's side is named DeWitt Talmage Methvin Jr., but we call him Pop.He was born November 7, 1924 in Alexandria Louisiana.His parents were DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Sr. and Myrtis Gregory Methvin.When Pop was three and a half, his sister Doris Beverly was born.A few months later, the family moved to Castor, Louisiana.This was because Pop's father was in the lumber business and supplied logs and timber to Roy O. Martin Lumber Company.A new sawmill had been built in Roytown, two miles from Castor, and Pop's father moved up there to help supply it with timber.Later on, Pop's father built a "peckerwood sawmill," which was a small sawmill which could be moved around.The family rented a white house with a big front porch.When Pop was nine and a half, his second little sister, Patricia Ann ("Patsy"), was born.
Pop started grammar school in Castor when he was five years old.Pop had to milk the cows, slop the pigs, and feed the horses every morning before he went to school.Back then, it wasn't considered hard, because that was everyone's lifestyle in the country.His father's work needed mules and horses to carry the trees out from the woods, and the animals stayed in a pasture next to Pop's house when they weren't working.The family also raised chickens for meat and eggs, and they had a vegetable garden.
Pop’s parents were “semi-strict,” he recalls.They let him have some freedom to do what he wanted, but he had to do his chores whether he had school or not.And there was no way he would mouth off to his parents.If he did, he had to go “cut a switch,” or in other words, find a good long stick for his parents to whip him with.They also believed what many parents believe now – education comes first.
The family did their own gardening and chores, but they had two helpers who lived in an old shack behind their house.They were twins named Elmo and Elgey.They worked for Pop's father in his timber and sawmill business, but also would do whatever needed doing around the house.Pop remembers many times walking through the pasture heading to Castor Creek, the swimming hole, with Elmo and Elgey.They would stop to shoot dice against an oak tree, using pennies and nickels to bet.Pop also learned how to play poker and other card games.To this day, he is a good poker and blackjack player.
Pop always loved to play sports.Castor did not have a football team, but Pop played baseball and basketball.When he was about ten or twelve years old, he built the first tennis court in Castor.He and his dad just started building one in the lot across the street.He took all the measurements and they brought sand to make a sand lot tennis court.
Pop attended Castor High School, which was one of the most progressive schools in Bienville Parish.Dr. E. R. Minchew was the principal there from 1932 to 1964, and he was well-respected.Castor High School had one of the best debate teams in the state at the time.Pop was on the team for two years.Pop graduated from Castor High School at age fifteen in May, 1940.Back then, schools only had eleven grades, and Pop had skipped second grade.
During Pop’s high school years, his mother was mayor of Castor.She was the first female mayor in Louisiana.Pop's father was on the Bienville Parish Police Jury for a time.
When Pop started LSU in September, 1940, his mother wanted him to go into medicine, so he skinned monkeys for the people in medical school to rebuild and study their bone structure.He also had a job in the cafeteria, and after skinning monkeys, he just couldn't look at food, so he decided medical school wasn't for him.
After Pop turned 18 in November, 1942, he quit college to join the Navy.The attack on Pearl Harbor had been on December 7, 1941, and it had inspired many men to serve their country.Pop wanted to be a part of helping in the war.He had to wait for more than half a year to be called up for service.During that time, he lived in Shreveport and worked for the railroad.
Once he was called up, the Navy spent two years training him as a pilot.By the time he earned his wings, there were not enough planes for all the pilots that had been trained.Therefore, he became an aviation gunnery instructor.Pop would take his students to a skeet range and to a field where they could practice with simulated guns.Pop found it odd that the people he trained were often pilots and gunners that had already fought in the war, while he had seen no action.But that’s what the Navy wanted him to do.Pop remembers these training exercises as mostly fun.
While Pop was in the Navy, he was stationed in many places, including Rochester and Loudonville, New York, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Roseville, Michigan, and Oakland and Santa Rosa, California.Pop rose to the rank of gunnery instructor 2nd class.
Pop was discharged from the Navy after three years, on May 16, 1946.He returned to LSU to study pre-law, and graduated in May, 1947.Pop then went to LSU Law school.
While in law school, Pop competed in the Moot Court Competition.In order to make it to the finals, held in the third year of law school, a team must win the two previous years.Pop and his partner, Brian Lehmann from Norco, made it to the finals.The justices of the Louisiana Supreme Court came to LSU Law School to judge the final competition.Pop made the final arguments for his team.They won.His experience on the Castor High School debate team had been a big help in winning this award.
Pop graduated from law school in May, 1950.By then, he had already met his future wife, Lallah Hill Cunningham ("Mammaw").He had met her in the spring of 1949.She had come to LSU for graduate studies in music.Mammawwas from Natchitoches, Louisiana, and like Pop, was the oldest child in her family.They married on October 7, 1950, a few months after Pop had graduated from law school.
Pop looked in a book to find out what places in Louisiana didn't have many lawyers.He found that there was a scarce amount in Alexandria, so he asked Mammaw if she wanted to live there and she said yes.Once they moved to Alexandria, he looked for jobs all around but couldn't find one, so he started his own law firm.In 1953, District Attorney Ben Thompson hired Pop to become an assistant district attorney.It was required that someone practice law at least three years before becoming an assistant district attorney, but Thompson hired Pop after two and a half years anyway.In 1955, Pop joined a law firm named Gist, Thornton and Murchison.It later became Gist, Methvin and Trimble.Today, the law firm is known as the Gist, Methvin Law Firm.
Pop is known for his courtroom style.His cross-examinations are brief and to the point, and if he doesn’t have a point to make with a witness, he will simply say, “no questions.”This might seem like a common approach, but it is actually rare because many attorneys think that the more they talk, the better chance they have of winning.Pop’s trialstrategy and careful preparation have led to many successes.
Pop was elected President of the Alexandria Bar Association in the early 1960's.He has an “AV” rating with Martindale Hubbell, which is the highest rating that a lawyer can get.In the early 1970's, Pop was invited to become a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, which is for only the best trial attorneys.He also served for eight years on the Louisiana Board of Ethics for Elected Officials, where he helped decide if government officials were serving properly.
Mammaw and Pop had five children between 1951 and 1960, four girls and a boy.They were Lallah Anne ("L'Anne"), Mildred Ellen ("Mimi" – my mom), Elisabeth ("Lisa"), DeWitt III ("Dee"), and Mary Ceil.My mom, my aunts, and my uncle say that Pop was a loving and kind father, with high standards.He expected his kids to work hard in school, do their best with what they had, and stay out of trouble.
In the late 1950's, Pop and Mammaw joined a group that leased a small island at the end of Cane River Lake, halfway between Alexandria and Natchitoches.On the island was an old white camp house.Pop bought a boat and taught all of his children how to ski.They spent many weekends every summer on the island and in the water.Pop’s children loved
Cane River so much that a couple of years ago my Uncle Dee built a house further up the
river.Now, Pop’s grandchildren go to Cane River often to swim, ski, and wakeboard just
like their parents did.The lake house is also a great place for family reunions and gatherings.Pop often joins us there, and Cane River is one of his favorite places.
Another of Pop’s favorite places is a duck camp named Savanne Nouvelle in the marshes of Cameron Parish.“Savanne nouvelle” means “new savannah” in French.Pop’s father taught him how to hunt when he was around age 11.He hunted quail at first on Black Lake, near Castor.When he was 14, he began to hunt ducks.Pop didn’t start hunting deer until he got out of college.Pop first hunted at Savanne Nouvelle in 1951 with the father of one of his friends, Gus Voltz.He brought my Uncle Dee hunting when he was a boy growing up, and Pop and Uncle Dee still hunt there several times every year.
Today Pop lives in Alexandria with his second wife, Frances Phillips.Pop still practices law and in his spare time, he and Fran go to the casino in Marksville.Pop and Fran have two pets: a cat that looks like Garfield named Captain Cat, and a black lab named Cleo.
I have many good memories of painting Easter eggs, playing with Cleo, and running in Pop’s huge backyard.In the middle of Pop’s backyard, there are many bushes and shrubs which we used to explore as if it were a jungle.We still go to Pop and Fran’s house often, and I enjoy playing with Cleo in the backyard.Pop to me is an active grandfather who is very supportive and easy to talk to.I couldn’t have a better grandfather than Pop.
Dad had three types of cancer at the end of his life, but all were treated successfully.He was a lifetime smoker and developed cancer of the tongue in the late 1990's.The tumor was operable and he later underwent head and neck radiation; the cancer never returned.A year or two later it was discovered that he had a slow-growing type of prostate cancer; this was successfully controlled.In the summer of 2000, colon cancer was discovered, and he underwent surgery to remove the lower portion of his colon.There was no sign of metastasis, and no radiation or chemotherapy was needed.
The day that Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and other communities along the Gulf Coast, Dad checked into Rapides General Hospital due to severe shortness of breath and fatigue.Tests showed he had severe blockage in his arteries and needed bypass surgery.It was very risky because he was weak, and in fact he had been fainting intermittently for quite a long time.The surgery was performed successfully in early September, and Dad began rehab at the hospital.Unfortunately, due to factors not directly related to his health, it was necessary for Dad to close down his beloved law practice during this already-difficult time. I traveled to Alexandria to box up his files and label things for moving to different locations.It was decided that Dad's desk and things would be moved to his house and that he would possibly work from there.The last time I saw Dad was on Monday, September 19, when I finished these chores and headed back to Lafayette.The next weekend, September 24-25, 2005, Dad watched Hurricane Rita smash into the marshes of Cameron Parish where his beloved duck camp was located.I'm sure there was no doubt in his mind that Savanne Nouvelle was gone.Dad died of a heart attack early in the morning of September 26, 2005.His beloved wife Fran was there with him at the end.
More About DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Jr.:
Burial: 01 Oct 2005, Ebenezer Baptist Cemetery, Castor, Louisiana.
Military service: U. S. Navy, aviation gunnery instructor.
Occupation: Bet. 1950 - 2000, Attorney.
Relationship to Author: Father.
More About DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Jr. and Lallah Hill Cunningham:
More About DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Jr. and Frances Phillips:
Children of DeWitt Talmage Methvin, Jr. and Lallah Hill Cunningham are:
- +Lallah Anne Methvin.
- +Mildred Ellen Methvin.
- +Elisabeth Methvin.
- +DeWitt Talmage Methvin III.
- Mary Ceil Methvin.