Poteat, Thomas L.

THOMAS L. POTEAT

Tom was a former President of GUUF.   He was a trial lawyer, and was working in Congressman Jim Mann office in DC when he died.

Thomas Lawton Poteat was born on September 27, 1924 to Mary Willingham Lawton and J. Douglas Poteat.

He attended Greenville High School but transferred to Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. He skipped his final year at Webb to enter Duke University under the U.S. Navy’s V-12 program. As a Lieutenant J.G., he served in the Pacific during WW II, returning to Duke in the fall of 1946 for his senior year, finishing in June 1947.

Tom and his wife, Barbara, met on a blind date arranged by one of his fraternity brothers and her roommate. In the fall of 1948 he entered law school at Duke. During the summer of 1949 he served in the naval reserves in the New York City area. They were married in early September of 1949, and graduated – him from law school and her from undergraduate school – at the same ceremony in June 1950.

After some months in Greenville, Tom and a distant cousin on his mother’s side, Thomas Oregon Lawton of Allendale, SC began a law practice in Georgetown, SC in 1952. Tom and Barbara’s children, Clarissa, Douglas and Gordon, were born there.

During their years in Georgetown, they became members of the Unitarian Church of The Larger Fellowship, and attended the Unitarian Church in Charleston for the years before their children were born.

When Tom Lawton married and returned to Allendale to practice law there, Tom began a practice with Jack Hiers who had moved to Georgetown from Charleston.

In 1960, Tom and Barbara moved to Greenville where Tom served as an adjuster with American Mutual Fire Insurance and was involved in the beginning of Greenville’s public defender system. On coming to Greenville in 1960, they joined the group of Unitarians that met on Sundays around the pool at the home of Gil and Clay Rowland.

Later Tom became the manager of Congressman Jim Mann’s Washington office, commuting as necessary to and from Greenville. After having a heart attack in D.C., bronchial cancer was discovered and he returned to Greenville, where he died at home on October 12, 1976.

His wife Barbara still resides in Greenville as of September 2016.