In a career full of interesting events, the best year of all was 1981-82 when I had the opportunity to clerk for the Honorable Frank M. Johnson, Jr., at the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. He was, during much of the civil rights era, the only federal district court judge in the Middle District of Alabama and the chosen jurist for civil rights cases. Andy Young once said to me that in marching from Selma, the movement selected Montgomery so that they would come under the jurisdiction of Judge Johnson. Unlike the other federal trial judges, Andy Young told me that in his courtroom they would be treated fairly. In Alabama in 1965, fairness was a rare commodity in race cases.
Judge died in 1999. This week, I learned that his wife, Ruth Johnson, passed away. For Judge and Mrs. J., the law clerks were family. There was many a meal that she cooked, camp stew perhaps her favorite. But most imporantly she was the strength behind the Judge, the person who enabled him to take the stands and write the opinions that advanced civil rights in this country. She will be missed.