WASHINGTON -- The Honorable Paul Rainey Webber III was born on Jan. 24, 1934, in Gadsden, South Carolina, to Paul Rainey Webber Jr. and Clemmie Embly Webber, EdD. His parents, both educators who later taught at South Carolina State University, met as pre-college students at Claflin (now Claflin University) in Orangeburg, where Paul spent his formative years.
Paul attended South Carolina State College's Felton Laboratory School and graduated from Wilkinson High School in 1951. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1955 from South Carolina State College, his Juris Doctor from South Carolina State University School of Law in 1957 and did further study at Georgetown University and the University of Southern California.
Paul married Fay DeShields of Atlantic City, New Jersey, "the love of his life," and returned to Columbia, South Carolina. He started his solo law practice at age 24, while teaching business law at Allen University. In 1959, Paul relocated to California, where he was offered a position as assistant law librarian at UCLA. The following year, he joined Golden State Mutual Insurance Company as associate legal counsel.
Under U.S. Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, Paul was appointed trial attorney for the Antitrust Division of the United States Justice Department in 1964 and relocated to Washington, DC. After moving to Washington with his family and completing his tenure with the Department of Justice, Paul held notable positions as Managing Attorney for the Neighborhood Legal Services Program, serving during a tumultuous period for the city that included the 1968 riots, and as a partner with Thompson Evans Dolphin and Webber, which later became Dolphin Branton Stafford and Webber. His practice served a variety of individuals and companies, and persons from all walks of life. He represented several high-profile clients, including legendary singer-songwriter Isaac Hayes and award-winning journalist Tony Brown of the long-running PBS series "Tony Brown's Journal."
During that same time period, he taught at Howard University School of Communications and later at George Washington University School of Law and Howard Law School.
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed him Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. He was named "Outstanding Trial Judge of the Year" in 1985 by the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., and in 1996, he was rated "One of the Best Trial Judges in the Washington Metropolitan Area" by Washingtonian Magazine.
Paul became a Senior Judge of the D.C. Superior Court in 1998 and was inducted into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame that same year. Among Paul's many accomplishments are his service as a board member of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, foundation member and General Counsel for Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (a.k.a. the Boulé), member of the Council for Court Excellence, and National President of the National Association of Guardsmen, Inc.
Widely recognized as a trailblazer, in 2007 Paul was interviewed and included in The HistoryMakers, the preeminent digital archive of African Americans who made a significant impact on American history. He published his autobiography, 'Enjoying the Journey, One Lawyer's Memoir,' in 2003.
In addition to his professional career, Paul was a dedicated member of Grace Episcopal Church, where he cared deeply for his community by preparing food for the homeless and driving the church van to deliver food to various sites throughout the city.
Paul is survived by his beloved wife of 62 years Fay DeShields Webber; his children, Paul Rainey Webber IV, Esq. (Roxanne McElvane Webber, Esq.), Dr. Stephen DeShields Webber, Nikki Webber Allen (Jeffrey Allen); grandchildren, Jordan Webber Edwards, Esq. (Raymond Edwards Jr.), Sean DeShields Webber, and Kelli Lynnette Webber; great-granddaughter Rainey Grace Edwards; sisters Dr. Carolyn Webber Thomson (Dr. Gerald Thomson) and Sheryl Webber Washington (The Honorable Eric T. Washington); sister-in-law, Gertrude DeShields Howard, and many nieces, nephews and extended family members.
The memorial service will be at Grace Episcopal Church, 1607 Grace Church Road, Silver Spring, Maryland, on Saturday, Nov. 16. Visitation will be at 10:30 a.m. and memorial will be at 12 p.m. In lieu of flowers, you may send a donation to: South Carolina State University Foundation, In memory of The Honorable Paul R. Webber III, P.O. Box 7187, Orangeburg, SC 29117.