Mississippi city lawyer retiring from nearly 6-decade career

Natchez, Mississippi (AP) — An attorney in the city of Natchez, southwestern Mississippi, is retiring after nearly 60 years of practice.

Walter Brown, 83, is the city’s legal counsel under the management of five mayors and plans to step down on December 31.

“It doesn’t seem very long, but the time has come,” Brown told the Natchez Democrat.

During his 58 years of law practice, Brown has served under five mayors: Tony Byrne, David Armstrong, Butch Brown, Hank Smith and Philip West.

“Each one was totally different in every way,” Brown said. “They all wanted to do something for society. I worked.There were exceptions, but not many.I thought everyone did a good job.Modern civil servants are like editors in newspapers.You get a lot of criticism.You go No one can tell you what’s good about you.”

Brown said he no longer works for clients, but will come to the office as usual.

“I’m going to read all the books I’ve bought so far, and I’m going to enjoy my wife and family,” he said of his vacation plans.

“Natchez is a very special city. People say, ‘You don’t have hobbies.’ Natchez is my hobby. It’s enough of a hobby to take care of me all my time,” Brown said.

Newcomers to Natchez quickly become part of the community, he noted.

“Look at Dan Gibson. “We come to this town: Savannah, Charleston, New Orleans, Natchez. Natchez has the character of a big city in the South,” Brown said.

“I love taking guests to Texada and telling them, ‘This is where the Territorial Assembly used to be and it was also a bar.’ This is where we first hoisted the flag,” he continued. “When new people come into the community, they become part of the community very quickly.

Brown is from Natchez. At age 17, he joined the United States Naval Reserve.

“Joining the military was the best thing I’ve ever done,” he said. “Anyone, then or now, who thinks life is going to be like life in college…well, it isn’t. I am an advocate.”

After missions in England, Norway and the Caribbean, he returned home. After he spent a year at the University of Southern Mississippi, he decided to study law at Ole Miss. He then opened a law firm in Natchez before he ran for Congress in 1967.

“I worked 12 years and realized I needed to come home and make a living,” Brown said.

Most of Brown’s work was governmental in nature.

“This comes from your dad being a supervisor[of Adams County]and going to Washington and attending Congress and meeting lawyers and other people all over the state. You will be involved in the public policy and administrative side of the practice.

“I suspect that at least half of my legal practice has been as a council counselor, including being a city attorney for 25 years and working in hospitals for about the same amount of time,” he said. “You are on the inside. While you are a board attorney, board members want to know not only what the law is, but what you think about this or that policy. So you look to your legal counsel.Without getting too deep there, you become the alderman’s listener and mediator between different points of view.That’s especially true in cities.”

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