Provost Peggy Agouris sent the following message to the campus community on May 13, 2022. – Ed.
I write to share the news that the Honorable Walter S. Felton Jr., former professor and adjunct professor at William & Mary Law School, passed away on April 29 at the age of 77. Born in Suffolk, Virginia, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Richmond and his J.D. from the University of Richmond’s T. C. Williams School of Law, where he was an Associate Editor of the Richmond Law Review. He proudly served in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAGC) and practiced law in Suffolk, Virginia.
Judge Felton joined the William & Mary faculty in 1982 as Assistant Professor and Administrative Coordinator of the Commonwealth’s Attorneys Council (Trial Practice, Criminal Law). During his first year at W&M he taught Criminal Law and Trial Advocacy. In September 2002, Professor Felton left teaching after 20 years to become a judge on the Virginia Court of Appeals, though he continued at W&M as an adjunct professor. He was the 1993 recipient of the Law School’s John Marshall Award for “exceptional character, leadership, and a spirit of selfless service.”
“Walter had a great disposition; he greeted you with a friendly smile and had a calming influence on faculty and students alike,” said colleague Lynda L. Butler, Chancellor Professor of Law, Emerita, and Director of the William & Mary Property Rights Project. “The students enjoyed his classes.”
Fredric Lederer, Chancellor Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Legal and Court Technology, first met Judge Felton when they opposed each other as counsel in a court-martial at Fort Gordon, Georgia. They later became faculty colleagues teaching Trial Advocacy together for a number of years.
“Walter, Professor, Judge, Felton, was bright, immensely competent, highly ethical and professional, and a wonderful caring human being,” Lederer said. “He contributed greatly to our students, our school, the Commonwealth, and the legal professions. My deep sense of loss is moderated only by the memory of his smile and the good that he did.”
Ronald H. Rosenberg, Chancellor Professor of Law, Emeritus, described Judge Felton as “extremely intelligent and…incredibly hard working.” He also found him “sincere, kind and understanding, especially of law students.”
Robert H. Kaplan, Associate Dean and Professor of the Practice of Law, described Judge Felton as “a trusted colleague” and “an expert teacher and advisor for students when he taught at William & Mary and during his tenure on the Court of Appeals.”
Judge Felton served on the Court of Appeals of Virginia for 12 years, retiring in 2015 after concluding his service as the Chief Judge. Prior to his election to the bench, he was first appointed as Deputy Attorney General of Virginia and then as Senior Counsel to the Attorney General. He later served as Counsel to Virginia Governor James S. Gilmore, III and Director of Policy.
At his retirement, Judge Felton joined The McCammon Group to serve the mediation, arbitration, judge pro tempore, and special master needs of lawyers and litigants throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.
A devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend, Judge Felton was an avid sports fan, enjoyed golf, float and pond fishing, nature, and generously supported numerous organizations and charities. He was admired by many because of his determined work ethic, humility, kindness, and compassion.
Judge Felton was preceded in death by his parents Walter Shepard and Myrtle Vann Felton. He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Kay Felton; his sister Myrtle Etheridge; his sons Walter “Shep” Felton and Joe Felton (Katie); stepdaughters Kristin Bishop (Doug) and Cassie Becker (Xavier); and grandchildren Andrew and Charlie Felton, Nate and Mabry Bishop, and Rylan and Birkett Becker.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on May 19, 2022, at Williamsburg Community Chapel, 3899 John Tyler Highway. For those who cannot attend in person, the service will be live streamed at wcchapel.org/felton. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to a charity of your choice in Judge Felton’s memory. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.NelsenWilliamsburg.com for the Felton family.