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N.C. Bar Center Hosts Justice Fund, Liberty Garden Dedication Ceremony

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By Russell Rawlings

The North Carolina Bar Foundation (NCBF) celebrated the establishment of four new NCBF Endowment Justice Funds in a dedication ceremony on Wednesday, October 19, at the N.C. Bar Center in Cary. The NCBF also dedicated two new Liberty Garden Benches and 10 new Liberty Garden Stone Pavers.

Justice Funds were dedicated in honor of Joseph B. Cheshire V, George B. Mast and the late Rudy L. Ogburn. The NCBF Endowment’s first Anonymous Justice Fund was also dedicated. A Liberty Garden Bench was also dedicated in memory of Rudy L. Ogburn, with an additional new bench dedicated in memory of Chief Justice Emery Denny and Wallace Ashley Jr.

“The funds that we are dedicating today enhance the Foundation’s ability to mobilize members of the North Carolina Bar Association to serve the people of North Carolina through legal services, pro bono, civic education, and professionalism-focused programs,” said NCBA/NCBF Executive Director Jason Hensley. “These Funds bolster the Foundation’s Endowment, allowing us to award more annual grants to legal organizations and programs across the state whose work furthers the Foundation’s mission, vision and values.”

“In 1960, the North Carolina Bar Foundation was established as the philanthropic arm of the Association,” added NCBA/NCBF President Clayton Morgan. “Today, the work of the Foundation is driven by its mission to unite the talent and generosity of the profession to be a power of greater good for the people of North Carolina.”

Copper etchings of honorees

Anonymous Justice Fund

The Anonymous Justice Fund was introduced by Edward G. (Woody) Connette, who serves as chair of the NCBF Development Committee. The donor chose to remain anonymous to direct attention toward the manner in which this Justice Fund was created. Individuals who are 72 years of age and older, as is this donor, can count Qualified Charitable Distributions from their Individual Retirement Account toward their annual Required Minimum Distributions, and pay no federal income tax on distributions transferred directly to organizations such as the NCBF. Learn more.

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Joseph B. Cheshire V Justice Fund

A fifth-generation lawyer, Joseph B. (Joe) Cheshire V is the Senior Partner at Cheshire Parker Schneider, PLLC of Raleigh. The renowned defense attorney is a past president of the N.C. Advocates for Justice (formerly N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers) and founding chair of the organization’s Criminal Law Section.

Within the NCBA he has served on the Board of Governors and its Executive Committee, as chair of the Criminal Justice Section, and is a previous recipient of the section’s Wade M. Smith Award. The award is presented annually to a criminal defense attorney who exemplifies the highest ideals of professionalism.

The Joseph B. Cheshire V Justice Fund was introduced by two of his law partners, Alan M. Schneider and Elliot S. Abrams. Cheshire is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University School of Law, and a veteran of the U.S. Army and Army Reserve. He and his wife of 53 years, Carolyn Beale Cheshire, have two married sons and three grandchildren. Learn more.

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George B. Mast Justice Fund

George B. Mast founded Mast Law Firm in Smithfield in 1962. The firm and Mast are still going strong after 60 years and multiple iterations, including Mast, Tew, Armstrong & Morris, P.A., Mast, Morris, Schulz & Mast, P.A., and Mast, Schulz, Mast, Mills, Stern & Johnson, P.A.

Mast is a past president of the North Carolina Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Foundation, and a past chair of the NCBA Litigation Section. He is a native of Watauga County and double Deacon, having earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from what was then known as Wake Forest College and now known as Wake Forest University. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where he served in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps and earned the rank of captain.

Mast and his wife, Gayle, have a blended family of five children and nine grandchildren. Son Charles Mast practices in the Mast Law Firm and daughter Christa Lawler is an assistant district attorney in New Hanover County. Charles Mast and former law partner Bradley N. Shulz introduced the George B. Mast Justice Fund. Learn more.

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Rudy L. Ogburn Justice Fund

The late Rudy L. Ogburn served most of his entire legal career with Young Moore and Henderson, P.A., of Raleigh. He died on March 30, 2022, at the age of 65 following a courageous battle with cancer.

Ogburn worked with First Citizens Bank before joining the Young Moore firm, where he practiced for 31 years and developed its estate planning practice. It was in this area of law that he also provided exemplary leadership and service in numerous ways. Ogburn served as chair of the NCBA Estate Planning & Fiduciary Law Section and in 2020 received the section’s Distinguished Service Award. He also served as chair of the N.C. State Bar’s Estate Planning and Probate Law Specialization Committee and was certified as a specialist in this area; as president of the Wake County Estate Planning Council; and as NC State Chair of the American College of Trust and Estate Council (ACTEC) and as a member of the ACTEC Board of Regents.

A native of Willow Springs, Ogburn was a graduate of Wake Forest University and Wake Forest University School of Law. He was devoted to his wife, Deb, and his three children. The Rudy L. Ogburn Justice Fund was introduced by his longtime law partner, David M. Duke. Learn more.

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Liberty Garden Benches

The Rudy L. Ogburn Liberty Garden Bench was made possible through the generosity of members of the NCBA Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section. As denoted previously, Ogburn was an active member of the section who provided leadership and service throughout his career.

The Chief Justice Emery B. Denny and Wallace Ashley Jr. Liberty Garden Bench was made possible through the generosity of Emery Denny Ashley and his son, Emery Denny Ashley Jr. The honorees and donors represent four generations of lawyers from the same family. Wallace Ashley Jr. (1928-2017) opened his practice in Smithfield in 1958 and was joined by his son, Emery D. Ashley, in 1989. Emery D. Ashley Jr. joined his father to form Ashley & Ashley in January 2022.

Chief Justice Emery B. Denny (1892-1973), grandfather of Emery Denny Ashley and great-grandfather of Emery Denny Ashley Jr., served on the Supreme of North Carolina as an associate justice from 1942-62 and as chief justice from 1962-66. Denny was also a former mayor of Gastonia and chaired the successful gubernatorial campaign of J. Melville Broughton, a past president of the NCBA.

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Liberty Garden Pavers

Liberty Garden Pavers were donated by the NCBA Estate Planning and Fiduciary Law Section in honor of past section chairs Linda Johnson and Rebecca Smitherman, and by the N.C. Association of Defense Attorneys in honor of Nick Ellis, Tricia Shields, Bonnie Weyher and Gray Wilson as past recipients of the J. Robert Elster Award for Professional Excellence.

Pavers were also donated by family, friends and colleagues in memory of Holt Gwyn (1949-2017) of Greensboro, past chair of the NCBA Construction Law Section; Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr. (1934-2019) of Raleigh, who served as chief justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina from 2001-06; Patrick Pait (1983-2018) of Lumberton, who was a member of the NCBA Leadership Academy’s Class of 2016; and Paul Sheridan (1965-2019) of Fuquay-Varina, a founding partner of Hannah, Sheridan & Cochran in Raleigh and active member of the NCBA Construction Law Section.

Garden with glass wall.Justice Funds and Liberty Garden Recognitions

NCBF Endowment Funds honor individual North Carolina lawyers and judges whose careers have exemplified the Foundation’s values of access to justice, service through the profession, civic education and professionalism. NCBF Endowment Justice Funds are Named Endowment Funds established with $50,000 in commitments intended to bolster the Foundation’s unrestricted endowment. Learn more.

The NCBF Annual Fund, which is supported in part by Liberty Garden recognitions, provides operational support to pro bono and civic education programs that annually engage hundreds of attorney volunteers to serve thousands of North Carolinians in all 100 North Carolina counties. Liberty Garden Walkway Benches are underwritten through a gift of $5,000. Liberty Garden Stone Pavers are made possible through a gift of $500. Learn more.

Photos from the event are available here and the complete video of the dedication ceremony is available here.