01/09/06 — Longtime attorney dies at 85

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Longtime attorney dies at 85

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on January 9, 2006 1:52 PM

William Archie Dees Jr., 85, the dean of Wayne County's legal profession and the first elected chairman of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, died early today at Wayne Memorial Hospital.

Dees was the senior partner of the law firm of Dees, Smith, Powell, Jarrett, Dees & Jones, which was founded by his father, Archie Dees.

William Archie Dees Jr

William Dees Jr.

Dees served three terms on the Goldsboro Board of Aldermen and nine years as chairman of the Goldsboro City Board of Education.

He was chairman of the state Board of Higher Education and a member of the board of directors of the state School Boards Association.

Dees was named to the Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina by the Legislature and served in that capacity until the establishment of the UNC Board of Governors, of which he was an original member.

In 1990, he received the University Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Board of Governors. It recognized his "illustrious service to higher education."

Dees served on the board of governors of the North Carolina Bar Association and as the original editor of its publication, "Bar Notes." He also served as president of the district bar association.

Dees was a native of Wayne County and attended the Goldsboro public schools. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dees was a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II and worked in mine and bomb disposal units in both Europe and the Pacific.

He began his law career in 1948 with his father.

Goldsboro lawyer Charles Gaylor said Dees was a role model for other lawyers in Wayne County.

"He was so well known and respected in this community, having served the state in his capacity with the university system and the local bar. He was a standard that I think every lawyer tried to adhere to. I think he set the standard in Wayne County as someone that we will never replace and an outstanding citizen. He did a lot of public service in addition to serving law. He gave a lot of time to his family and the community," Gaylor said

Lawyer Lindsay Warren said Dees was an outstanding legal mind.

"He was a dear friend of mine, and one of Wayne County's finest citizens. As a lawyer, he was an honorable, fair man, and we worked together and we opposed each other in legal matters through the years, but he was an outstanding lawyer," Warren said.

"He served as chairman of the Goldsboro City Board of Education, back in the days when desegration was taking place -- a difficult job at a difficult time."

"He (Dees) was like Atticus Finch," said lawyer John Walston. "A consummate professional and a consummate gentleman. He represented the highest standards of the legal profession."

Dees is survived by his wife, Patricia Turlington Dees, his son, John Woodward Dees, and his daughters, Mahala Dees Myrick and Alice Dees Crabtree.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Ozello Woodward Dees, who died in 1991.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete at Seymour Funeral Home.