Morgan Carrington Fowler
September 18, 1922 – July 20, 2019
Morgan Carrington Fowler, age 96, passed away July 20, in Memphis. He was born September 18, 1922, in Memphis, to Joseph A. and Edith C. Fowler. He graduated from Central High School, Rhodes College, and the University of Virginia School of Law.
He practiced law in Memphis before being appointed Judge of the General Sessions Court by Governor Frank Clement in 1963 upon the recommendation of the Memphis and Shelby County Bar Association. He subsequently won two general elections to that position by wide margins. He was also elected president of the Tennessee General Sessions Judges’ Association.
On the bench, Judge Fowler was an “old-school” judge who said that his greatest ambition was to ensure that people’s first encounter with the law – which often took place in the General Sessions divisions – was a proper, fair and respectful one. For that reason, he never wanted to advance to a higher appellate level. He would sometimes offer first-time defendants he deemed guilty a deal: the dismissal of their case a year later if they committed no more offenses, and the maximum sentence on the current charge if they did. The recidivism rate in his court was understandably low. He believed that rehabilitation was a higher goal than punishment. He frequently tailored the punishment to the crime by, for instance, requiring someone convicted of violating hunting laws to serve weekends working with the Fish and Wildlife Service. It is also said that he was the first judge in Tennessee to sentence someone to jail for cruelty to animals.
During his 22 years of service, he was the only judge in the county who was fluent in American Sign Language. Though not deaf himself, he was active in the deaf community, coaching deaf recreational basketball and softball teams, teaching sign language, and serving as chair of the Interpreting Service for the Deaf.
His family and friends will remember his commanding presence and deep voice, his steadfast integrity as a public servant, his devotion to a scotch and water at Happy Hour, and his love of dogs and horses, which in later years could be coupled with impatience towards some of their two-legged brethren. He would want to be remembered for his service in the U.S. Army during World War II. He enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor and was on a troop carrier headed to Japan when the war ended. He was an avid reader of history until the week of his death from pneumonia. He was a 60+ year member of the Shriners, and a Boy Scout scoutmaster.
He was predeceased last year by his wife of 68 years, Betty C. Fowler. He leaves behind his son, Cary Fowler (Amy), and daughter, Jo Fowler Hargraves (Ed). He also leaves four grandsons: Morgan Hargraves, Joel Hargraves (Shannon), Martin Fowler and Thomas Fowler, and great-grandsons, Clark Fowler Hargraves, and Coleman Thomas Hargraves.
He was a member of St. Philip Episcopal Church and a former vestryman.
Memphis Funeral Home will handle arrangements. A private service will be held at a later date.
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Morgan Carrington Fowler
Judge Butch Childers (Ret)
September 16, 2019
I tried some of my first cases as a lawyer before Judge Fowler. He was patient and kind to everyone, but especially to new green lawyers. He was a role model for me when I became a judge. He also had a great court officer, Sheriff Bill Nance, who was devoted to Judge Fowler, a great judge and a great man! Rest in peace Judge.
July 22, 2019
Judge Fowler, long active in service for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing through the Interpreting Service for the Deaf as Board Member and Board Chair for a number of years. He was compassionate in his guidance. Rest in Peace. Tom Webb