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Joseph Dillard Quillian

Joseph Dillard Quillian, 1953-1960


JOSEPH DILLARD QUILLIAN served on the Court of Appeals for seven years, 1953-1960, and the Supreme Court for six years, 1960-1966, and thereafter was Justice Emeritus until his death. He was born February 23, 1893, in Dalton, Whitfield County, Georgia, and died October 24, 1968.

He graduated from South Georgia at Oxford, and then Emory Colleges. He was admitted to the Bar January 8, 1915, and began to practice law in Buford and Winder, Georgia.

He married Jeanette Evans in Lula, Georgia, on May 21,1916. They had two children, Joseph Dillard, Jr., and Alma Adelia. He married Tabitha Caroline Sims on December 21, 1924, in Barrow County, Georgia, and they had two sons, Alfred Asbury and John Kelley. For further family history and details of his life, see the memorial dated October 13,1969, in 225 Georgia Reports, pages XXV -XXXIV.

He was a Methodist; Democrat; Mason; Odd Fellow; W.O. W;Phi Alpha Delta; City Attorney of Buford, Bethlehem, Statham, Auburn, and Winder; County Attorney of Barrow County; school board member City of Winder; State Board of Review; and he practiced law for 38 years before he ascended the Bench.

He loved to read "Greek and Roman classics, an interest he retained throughout his life. ..legal writings were often spiced with phrases from the classics he loved." An attorney friend said, "He was an authority on the subject from the hymns of Caedmon and the Adventures of Beowulf to the poetic realism of Kipling and the mist-world idealism of Wolfe." At age 12 he played and tied the American chess champion Harry Nelson Pillsbury in a simultaneous chess exhibition. It was noted, "This was a demonstration of the perseverance, perception and prowess in his early life." He took up the hobby of golf after he retired.

He was a symbol of integrity. "He was a prodigious worker with an insatiable desire to follow the letter of the law in all opinions that he wrote or participated in." His opinions "are models of clarity from premise to conclusion, written with strict attention to pertinent fact and legal principle. They are neither stiff with quotation nor loose with irrelevancy ...He had a rare power of observation and insight, and was a master of words that transfix."

He was a "good, kind, friendly and generous man. He was never too busy to lend an attentive ear or extend a helping hand." He is compared to Nisbet, Lumpkin, Bleckley, Simmons, Duckworth and Townsend.