Notice of Online Archive

  • This page is no longer being updated and remains online for informational and historical purposes only. The information is accurate as of the last page update.

    For questions about page contents, contact the Communications Division.

Former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice and 41-year Lafayette trustee Thomas W. Pomeroy Jr. ’29 passed away Dec. 17 at age 94. He was renowned as a distinguished jurist, legal scholar, and advocate of state court and constitutional reform. Also known for his mentoring of young lawyers, Pomeroy was a founder of Pittsburgh law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart.

Prior to his tenure on the state’s highest court (1968-78), he served on a committee to revise the Pennsylvania constitution, which led to a constitutional convention in 1967. After leaving the court, Pomeroy participated in the governor’s commission to evaluate the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island.

“Justice Pomeroy respected, even revered, the law, for all that it means and has meant, for its potentialities, and for its human strengths and limitations,” wrote Pete Kalis, managing partner at Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, in a tribute. “I suspect, moreover, that in some ancient, long-forgotten language, ‘Pomeroy’ means ‘mentor.’ He sought to elevate the young people of his law firm onto a plane that few within the profession occupy.

“It’s no accident that, when we recently renovated the Pittsburgh office, we consecrated some of its space as the Thomas W. Pomeroy Jr. Professional Development Center. To our younger lawyers, breathe deeply our air and catch a scent of greatness, I hope not too distant, because Tom Pomeroy once walked our halls.”

“As a young lawyer, I was very lucky to know those in Judge Pomeroy’s generation,” said Louise Byer, mother of Jacob Garcia ’05. “I worked for another great one, Justice Stanley Mosk of the California Supreme Court. We had a glimpse of the ethics and graciousness that Judge Pomeroy’s generation and he practiced. We could only emulate in our lives what we saw and we tried very hard to live up to those standards The legacy of a great person like Judge Pomeroy is to live well and with heart.”

At Lafayette, Pomeroy received the George Wharton Pepper Prize and Benjamin F. Barge Mathematical Prize. He served as class president, Student Council vice president, Debate Team captain, and assistant manager of the football team. He was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, Maroon Key, and Brainerd Society Cabinet. He also participated in Little Theater and Freshman Players.

After graduating from Lafayette with a degree in government and law, Pomeroy taught public speaking at the College for a year before entering Harvard Law School, where he received his degree in 1933.

He soon joined the law firm of Reed Smith Shaw & McClay. In 1935, he married Maria Frances Whitten of West Newton, Mass. In World War II, he served in the Office of General Counsel of the U.S. Navy, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. He joined the Lafayette Board of Trustees in 1943, serving through 1984 and receiving the George Washington Kidd Award in 1979.

In 1946, Pomeroy and six other lawyers left Reed Smith to form their own law firm, which became Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. He served as president of the state and county bar associations, was a leader in many civic and charitable organizations including the Community Chest (now United Way), YMCA, and World Affairs Council, and was a member of Duquesne Club, Harvard-Yale-Princeton Club, and other clubs. He was a longtime member of Ben Avon Presbyterian Church, where he served as an elder and Sunday school teacher.

Pomeroy received numerous awards and honors, including American Judicature Society’s Herbert Harley Award for lifelong dedication to the effective administration of justice.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Pomeroy Family Scholarship Fund by writing a check to “Lafayette College” with the fund indicated in the memo field, addressed to Lafayette College, College Relations, 307 Markle Hall, Easton, PA 18042.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles