Prominent Roanoke attorney William Poff died Wednesday. He was 80.
Poff was a lawyer at Woods Rogers for more than 50 years.
“While his unparalleled skills as a trial lawyer were evident to all who worked with or against him, I choose to remember Bill for a side of him not always evident to those who knew him only as a lawyer,” Woods Rogers president Thomas Bagby wrote in a news release. “The side of Bill I will always cherish is his enormous spirit of generosity and loyalty to those in need.”
Poff was born in Vickers and graduated from Christiansburg High School at the age of 15.
He later attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and earned a law degree from Washington & Lee University.
After graduating from law school, he spent time in the Army. He joined Woods Rogers law firm in 1959.
Poff was president of the Virginia State Bar, president of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, a member of the board of governors of the American Bar Association, and a founding member of the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys.
At Poff’s request, there will be no funeral or memorial service. In lieu of flowers, Poff’s family asks that donations be made to the Roanoke Valley SPCA.
Here is the news release from Woods Rogers:
Woods Rogers PLC president Thomas R. Bagby today issued the following statement about the passing of long-time firm attorney William B. Poff:
“On September 5, 2012, the Woods Rogers family lost a great friend, colleague and mentor, William B. Poff. Bill was an integral part of Woods Rogers for over 50 years. During that time, he established himself as the consummate trial lawyer, possessing extraordinary intellect, work ethic, and commitment to the law. While his unparalleled skills as a trial lawyer were evident to all who worked with or against him, I choose to remember Bill for a side of him not always evident to those who knew him only as a lawyer. The side of Bill I will always cherish is his enormous spirit of generosity and loyalty to those in need. Without fanfare and usually without anyone ever knowing it, Bill provided help to countless people in our community with his unconditional generosity. Days before his death, Bill took it upon himself to set up a fund through our firm for a friend who had been diagnosed with cancer and who was without health insurance. Although he himself was bedridden at the time and within days of his death, he reached out, as he always did, to help a friend in need.
“You are fortunate in life if you have an opportunity to spend even a minute with a person as extraordinary as Bill Poff. Generations of lawyers at Woods Rogers were privileged to have spent over 50 years benefitting from Bill’s wise counsel, his good humor, and his commitment to his principles and the profession he so loved. We are all better people and better lawyers from having spent time with our friend, Bill. The memory of Bill, his many accomplishments, and his love for our firm and his beloved profession, will remain with us always.”
BILL POFF OBITUARY
William B. Poff passed away on September 5, 2012, surrounded by family and friends. A renowned attorney, Bill was born in Vickers, Virginia on August 23, 1932. His father, John Poff, ran a country store and his mother, Pansy Boose Poff, was a school teacher. They taught him the value of hard work and education which stayed with him throughout his life.
He graduated from Christiansburg High School at the age of 15 and then attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. He earned his law degree at Washington & Lee University where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review and Order of the Coif. After graduation from law school, Bill was commissioned into the United States Army, and taught at the Judge Advocate General school in Charlottesville. Bill joined the Woods Rogers law firm in 1959.
Bill’s accomplishments and awards in the law are extensive. Bill was not only masterful in the courtroom, but he was a gifted teacher of legal skills, strategy and technique. He was a mentor to countless attorneys throughout Southwestern Virginia, and it was a source of pride to Bill that a number of the attorneys he mentored went on to become judges. In his over 50 years of practice with Woods Rogers he argued and tried hundreds of cases in federal and state courts in Virginia and beyond, winning cases before the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. In doing so, he earned a reputation for his keen intellect, tenacity, and the ability to simplify even the most complex issues.
Bill was, over the course of his distinguished career, President of the Virginia State Bar, President of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, a Member of the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and a founding member of the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys. He received the Frank W. “Bo” Rogers, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award from the Roanoke Bar Association and also received a lifetime achievement award from the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys. Just this year, Bill received the Roger Groot Professionalism Award from the Ted Dalton American Inn of Court, the Inn’s highest honor.
Bill was “old school” in his work ethic, determination and attention to detail - but also “new school” in his fascination with new technologies, new ideas and in his desire to learn about ever-expanding areas of law. He was a consummate lawyer, colleague and friend, and he leaves his own indelible mark on the practice of law in Virginia.
Bill married Magdalen (“Mag”) Barbara Andrews Poff in 1957. She was an award-winning journalist with the Roanoke Times who shared Bill’s work ethic and dedication to professional excellence. After Mag’s death, Bill married the next love of his life, Spring Cho, an intelligent, devoted and successful businesswoman. She brightened his later years immeasurably, and her influence helped Bill reveal to the world the softer side of the hard-boiled litigator. Spring’s four daughters, and their children, became a source of pride and joy for Bill.
Bill was always deeply involved in civic affairs. He was a long-time leader in Roanoke’s Sister Cities program; he worked diligently in support of Republican Party politics, and served as Director of local organizations such as Mill Mountain Playhouse, the Roanoke YMCA, and the Roanoke Valley Jaycees to name only a few. Bill was also a very generous man, devoted to many causes, and fiercely loyal to his cats - Pan, Piper, and Frisky.
Bill is survived by his wife Spring, and his step-daughters Virginia, Young, Sunn, Anne and her husband Mike, in addition to his grandchildren Carter, Ryan, Victoria and Peyton. Bill requested that there be no funeral or memorial service to mark his death. In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family asks that donations be made to the Roanoke Valley SPCA.