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  Court of Appeals / Special Sessions / Judge Hetrick


Robert Alfred

Chief Judge


1984 - 1993

May 17, 2011

Robert Alfred "Fred" Hedrick

Robert Alfred “Fred” Hedrick was born in Statesville, North Carolina on 23 August 1922. He graduated from the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in 1943, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1946, and from its School of Law in 1949

Hedrick served as Iredell County's prosecuting attorney for eight years and as a judge on the Recorder's Court in Statesville for 10 years. In 1969, Governor Robert Scott appointed Hedrick to the newly created North Carolina Court of Appeals. Hedrick served on the Court of Appeals for 24 years, eight of those years as the Court's chief judge.

Colleagues and friends describe Hedrick as a gruff man with a big heart. His law clerks' nickname for him was "Grudge." His former colleagues say that Hedrick possessed a brilliant legal mind and an incredible memory. He wrote notes to himself using a Braille typewriter and dictated his opinions into a recorder to be transcribed. His law clerks say he was a perfectionist who insisted on getting his opinions done early.

Though Hedrick could not see, he was keenly perceptive about people and things taking place in the world around him. He was also known for his sharp sense of humor and devilish ability to play clever pranks on his unsuspecting colleagues and law clerks.

Hedrick was also well known for his love of music and a deep baritone voice, and he often sang at civic clubs, weddings, funerals, and in church choirs. He once sang with UNC classmate Andy Griffith before Griffith went on to television and movie fame.

In a 1970 newspaper story, Hedrick said, "I don't feel I have accomplished anything unusual that a lot of other people couldn't have done. I just hope that what I have done might serve to help the 10,000 people in North Carolina who are blind."


CALL TO ORDER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Court Marshall

WELCOME . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chief Judge John Martin

OF SPEAKERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Judge Linda Stephens


Missy Donovan
Executive Assistant for Judge Hedrick

R.M. “Hoppy” Elliot
Clerk for Judge Hedrick

Tricia Kerner Shields
Clerk for Judge Hedrick

RESOLUTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chief Judge John Martin

ADJOURNMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Court Marshall



Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to this ceremonial session of the Court. Approximately two months ago, the family of Chief Judge R.A. “Fred” Hedrick made the very generous gift to this Court of Chief Judge Hedrick’s portrait. When I began to talk with Pat about a presentation ceremony, she told me she did not want a formal presentation; she asked if someone could just come over to their home and pick it up. Judge Stephens and I made an appointment, had a wonderful visit with Pat, and came back to the Court with the treasure that now hangs on this courtroom wall. But something was missing – we felt that our Court needed to recognize the wonderful gift and give others an opportunity to come and see it and reminisce about our old friend.

So, today, we welcome you to this celebration of the service rendered by Chief Judge R.A. “Fred” Hedrick not only to this Court but to North Carolina.

We especially welcome Pat Hedrick and her family and thank them again for this wonderful gift and for coming to be with us. Judge Hedrick’s daughter Marty and his sons Jeff and John, as well as John’s wife Tammy and their daughters, Jacqueline and McKenzie are here; we are glad you could be here. His daughter Joanna was not able to come but is with us in spirit and wishes she could be here in person.

There are a number of former members of the Court here this afternoon who served with Chief Judge Hedrick and I will try my best to see and recognize all of you, and if I miss anyone, please raise your hand or do something so that I may welcome you personally:

Chief Justice Sarah Parker
Former Chief Judge Gerald Arnold
Former Judges Jim Carson, Willis Whichard, Maurice Braswell, and Ralph Walker
Former Clerk of the Court of Appeals Francis Dail

There are also a number of other Judges with us this afternoon:
From the Supreme Court, Justice Robert Edmunds, Justice Robin Hudson, Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson, Justice Paul Newby, Justice Barbara Jackson, and Clerk of the Supreme Court Christie Cameron.

From the Court of Appeals, Judge John Arrowood.

My wife Margaret is also here.

There are also a number of Judge Hedrick’s former law clerks and executive assistants here who will be recognized by other speakers. We welcome all of you here today.

One of those former clerks, Linda Stephens, has served on this Court since 2006 and is largely responsible for putting this gathering together. Judge Stephens will make some remarks and introduce our speakers.


Thank you, Chief.

What a joy and an honor it is for me to add my personal welcome to each of you on this exceedingly special occasion to acknowledge and thank the members of Judge Hedrick’s family for the wonderful gift of his portrait to our Court. I am delighted to see each of you, but I am especially thrilled and thankful that Pat and Jeff and John are able to be with us this afternoon.

Before I call on our speakers to share some memories of Judge Hedrick, I must respectfully dissent from Judge Martin’s opinion that I am largely responsible for putting the program together. The only thing I am largely responsible for is knowing on whom I could rely to respond cheerfully and immediately to my pleas for help. With deep gratitude, I wish to recognize the following individuals for all they did to make this occasion a success:

Judge Calabria and her EA, Paula Broome. Paula has been with the Court for many years and was here during Judge Hedrick’s tenure;

Judge Thigpen’s EA, Sandra Timmons. Sandra’s touch and help are evident in just about every part of the program this afternoon, including details that I forgot but she knew should be part of the event;

My former law clerk, Allegra Milholland. Allegra left me in January to go across the street to the Supreme Court, but she is always willing to answer my calls for her assistance whatever form that assistance may take;

And last, but certainly not least, the members of my chambers: my EA, Cathy Brown who was also here when Judge Hedrick served; my law clerks, Jennifer Sikes and Chris Karlsson; and my UNC externs, Ruth Sheehan and Andrew Arnold. Their assistance took many forms, including calming me down when the need arose!

Most of you probably know that our chambers consist of the judge, the judge’s executive assistant, and two law clerks. I had been long gone from my stint here as one of Judge Hedrick’s law clerks when Missy Donovan became his EA, but I heard all about her. Missy was with the Judge from 1991 until he retired at the end of 1992. She also worked in the Court’s staff counsel’s office, having been hired by the Judge for that position as well. We are honored to have her join us today for memories of working with the Judge as his last EA. Missy will also recognize other of the Judge’s EAs who have joined us this afternoon.

As Chief Judge Martin indicated, I was fortunate to work for a year as one of Judge Hedrick’s law clerks. Words are inadequate to describe that experience, but for decades I have pointed out that I learned more about the law during that one year with the Judge than in all three years I spent at UNC Law School. I also learned about living a good life, and I believe that all of the Judge’s former law clerks will agree with me about that. We are delighted to have 12 of his clerks with us this afternoon. Based on the RSVPs I received, the following former clerks are here to celebrate this special event:

Cyndie Hagaman Callaway (and her son, Jacob)
Cecil Harrison
Lewis Sauls
Billy Brewer
Greg Lewis
Julie Lewis
Mark Finkelstein
Robert Montgomery
Don Watson
Dona Lewandowski
Hoppy Elliot
Tricia Kerner Shields

I have one final thought I would like to share. For my reminiscences of the Judge at his funeral, I solicited descriptions of him from other clerks. Uniformly, he was described in terms such as larger than life, a huge personality, a character, a giant. The power of Judge Hedrick’s personality has perhaps now been matched by the power of the gift of his portrait to hang in this Courtroom. The first time I sat on a panel after his portrait was hung, I found myself glancing up for his reaction when one of the lawyers argued a dubious point, and I swear I saw the Judge nodding and smiling in agreement with my assessment.


At our bimonthly Court Conference on April 19, the Court unanimously adopted a resolution which I would like to read:


Whereas, Robert Alfred “Fred” Hedrick was born in Statesville, North Carolina on 23 August 1922 and graduated from the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in 1943, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1946, and from its School of Law in 1949; and

Whereas, Judge Hedrick served as both a prosecutor and a judge in Iredell County, North Carolina from 1950 to 1969 when he was appointed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals by Governor Robert W. Scott; and

Whereas, Chief Judge Hedrick was then elected by the people of North Carolina to successive terms on this Court in 1970, 1976, and 1984 and served the people of this State on this Court for 24 years; and

Whereas, Chief Judge Hedrick served as Chief Judge of this Court from 3 January 1985 until his retirement on 31 December 1992; and

Whereas, Chief Judge Hedrick was well known not only for his love of the law, but also for his love of music and for his deep baritone voice, and he often sang at weddings and similar events and even sang once with his UNC classmate Andy Griffith before Griffith left North Carolina to pursue his acting career; and

Whereas, Chief Judge Hedrick was also known for his keen sense of humor and his devilish ability to play clever pranks on his unsuspecting colleagues and law clerks; and

Whereas, Chief Judge Hedrick was held in highest esteem by the Bench, Bar and citizenry of North Carolina for his life of public service and for the many examples of courage and perseverance demonstrated by his life;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE NORTH CAROLINA COURT OF APPEALS: that the North Carolina Court of Appeals hereby honors and recognizes with deep gratitude and appreciation the family of former Chief Judge Hedrick for their generous gift of his portrait, which shall be displayed with honor in the very courtroom where he contributed so much to the jurisprudence of this State, the elevation of his profession, and the collegiality of this Court.


Adopted by the Chief Judge and Judges of
The North Carolina Court of Appeals

On 19 April 2011

Pat, we have had the resolution framed and I would like to come down and present it to you – it won’t take the place of Fred’s portrait in your house, but I hope it will be a constant reminder of the great esteem and love the Court holds for him.

We will adjourn now, and I hope that all of you who have not had an opportunity to see the portrait will go and have a look and then please join us for a reception in the gallery immediately outside the courtroom. I would ask that you not bring food or drink into the courtroom.

Marshal Ellis, adjourn the Court.


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