William Dudley ‘Billy’ Melton

Published 10:51 am Friday, October 13, 2023

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William Dudley “Billy” Melton departed his earthly life on Oct. 10, 2023.  He died at his residence in Evergreen, Conecuh County, Alabama.  He was born at Stabler Clinic in Greenville, Butler County, Alabama on June 30, 1943.  He was a descendant of the earliest pioneer families who settled western Butler and eastern Wilcox Counties in the community of Friendship, which later became Pine Apple, Alabama.  He was predeceased by his parents, Thomas Plowden Melton, Jr. and Eulynne Brantley Melton.

He grew up in Evergreen and attended the public schools.  He graduated from Evergreen High School in the Class of 1961.  In high school he was a letterman in three sports and was an All-State football player.  He was an honor student and President of his Senior Class.  He was State President of the Alabama Beta Clubs, Lieutenant Governor of Boy’s State and Attorney General of Boy’s Nation.

He signed a football scholarship with Auburn University and played on the freshman team of 1961.  While at Auburn, he was a member of Squires, a men’s sophomore honor fraternity, and a member of Nu Chapter of the Kappa Alpha Order.  He graduated in 1964.  He was a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.

He entered the University of Alabama Law School in the fall of 1963 and graduated therefrom in January 1966.  At the Law School he was President of the Student Bar Association.  After graduation from Law School, he was employed by the Office of the Attorney General.

In the spring of 1966, he entered the Democratic Primary to seek election to Place 2 of District 34 in the Alabama House of Representatives.  He won this nomination and had no opposition in the General Election.  He served on the Judiciary and on Inter Governmental Committees.

He declined to seek re-election to the House and was nominated to the Senate by the State Democratic Committee to fill a vacancy in the 19th District.  He was sworn into the Senate on March 26, 1973 and served on the Judiciary and Insurance Committee.  He supported, among other things, the Judicial Article.  He never sought public elected office again.

He was admitted to the Alabama Bar Association on April 22, 1966.  He was a trial lawyer for nearly fifty years.  He was an AV Bar Register lawyer by the time he was thirty nine years old and remained so until his death.  He was an involved member of the Alabama Bar most of his professional life.

He was a member of the following associations and served in the following capacities, viz., Conecuh County Bar Association; Alabama State Bar (Member: Grievance Committee; Character & Fitness Committee; Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure Committee; Advisory Committee on the Alabama Rules of Evidence; Disciplinary Commission; Board of Bar Examiners Advisory Committee; Chairperson, Supreme Court Liaison Committee; Vice President; Member and Chairman, Alabama Board of Disciplinary Appeals; Member, Leadership Forum Standing Committee; Batson Task Force; Federal Judiciary Liaison Committee; Board of Governors; American Board of Trial Advocates (Member, National Executive Committee); as well as being a  Life Fellow of the Alabama Law Foundation.

He also authored “Uninsured Motorist Coverage: A Significant Decision,” 32 Alabama Lawyer 185, 1970.He was a member of The International Society of Barristers.  He served on the Editorial Boards of Alabama Trial Lawyers Journal and The Alabama Lawyer.  He was the Bar Commissioner, 35th Judicial Circuit, 1986-1996 and the Alabama Pattern Jury Charges Committee.

He served as a Judge on the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for many years.

He was licensed to practice in the State of Alabama, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth and Eleventh Circuits and Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Court.

He was a supporter of the University of Alabama Law School. He received the 2007 Sam W. Pipes Farrah Law Alumni Society Award. He served as Vice-Chairman, and Chairman, of the Farrah Law Society; a member, Law School “Campaign for Alabama” Steering Committee; Member, Board of Directors, Secretary, Vice President, and President, of the  University of Alabama Law School Foundation.  He served the University of Alabama School of Law on the Law School Foundation Executive Committee. 

His hobby was the study of history.  He was a member and Director in the Alabama Historical Association, Friends of Alabama Archives, Archives Foundation, and Alabama Bench and Bar Historical Society. He was a member of the Wilcox County Historical Society and the Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society.  He served as a member of Board of Directors of The Alabama Heritage Foundation.

He held a membership in Sons of American Revolution, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Alabama Genealogical Society and First Families of Alabama.

He was Baptized into the fellowship of The Evergreen Baptist Church on January 17, 1954 and became a lifelong member.  He taught Sunday School for many years and served as a Deacon.  He edited and co-authored “The History of The Evergreen Baptist Church.”  He served as a Trustee for many years. He also served on the Board of Directors of The Alabama Baptist.

He was a member of the Board of Directors of Eastern Sleep Products, Inc. in Richmond, Virginia for many years.

During his vacations from his early educational years, he worked at Max Kahn Curtain Corporation, Flexible Southern Company and with the Conecuh County Road Department.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Nancy Miller Melton, and their two children:  Nancy Dudley Melton (Tyler) Berry of Franklin, Tennessee and Richard Plowden (Jennifer) Melton of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and five grandchildren:  Lathram Olivia Berry, Tyler Rieves (Tori) Berry, V, Mary Dudley Berry, Lee Miller Melton and Virginia Catherine Melton.

A memorial service will be held on October 13, 2023 at 12:00 noon at the Evergreen Baptist Church, with visitation one hour prior to the service.  In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to The Nancy Melton Scholarship for Girls at Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes, Post Office Box 361767, Birmingham, Alabama 35236-1767.

Cope-Keahey Funeral Home is entrusted with arrangements.