Beverly Lake, Jr. – A Life of Dedication to Wake Forest
Today we sadly bid goodbye to I. Beverly Lake, Jr., one of the giants of Wake Forest who consistently cherished and supported our local history while moving on to become one of North Carolina’s most complex and inspiring judicial leaders.
For many years, Lake served as a member of the Board of the Wake Forest College Birthplace Society, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates the museum. As a Wake Forest native and Wake Forest University alumnus, he generously offered advice, guidance, and direction.
WFU Provost Emeritus Dr. Ed Wilson and I. Beverly Lake, Jr., at a museum event in 2010.
Lake was born in Raleigh on January 30, 1934 and grew up in Wake Forest, where his father was a Professor of Law at Wake Forest College.
His childhood coincided with World War II. While the country was at war, Lake watched from his home on N. Main Street, later sharing his memories in an oral history given to the museum in 2010.
I. Beverly Lake, Jr., (center front) with grandfather James L. Lake, and cousins (left to right) Virginia Lake, Bettie Marable Patterson, Grady Patterson, Jr., and Sarah Patterson.
“There was no bypassing of Wake Forest, so all of the troop convoys came right through town and we could stand in our front yard and talk to them, wave to them, and sometimes go out if they were stopped and give them doughnuts and coffee and things like that…. I remember a little cousin of mine, visiting, dressed up in her nurse’s uniform and she went right out on the sidewalk and saluted the soldiers as they came back and that thrilled them quite a bit, they were taken with that.”
Soldiers training in Wake Forest while stationed at the Army Finance School during WWII.
Lake graduated from Wake Forest College in 1955, became a lawyer, and in 1976 was elected to the first of two terms in the North Carolina Senate, authoring legislation on public utilities, private and church school, and criminal justice reform.
Although he ran for governor in 1980 (and lost), Lake was determined to make a difference and continued in public life, accepting an appointment as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina in 1992. Eight years later he was elected Chief Justice, becoming the first Republican to fill that position since 1894.
Perhaps most importantly, Lake established North Carolina’s Actual Innocence Commission in 2002. This began his life’s third act, a period dedicated to preventing wrongful convictions in our state. Lake leveraged his political reputation as a legal conservative to bring together police, prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, and law professors in an effort to improve the system for both victims and suspects.
Lake’s efforts mattered. Among the changes he pushed through was a law that established North Carolina as one of the first states in the nation to require the recording of police interrogations.
He also championed laws to impose rigorous standards for photo lineups and to create comprehensive guidelines for preserving DNA evidence and post-conviction DNA testing.
By 2015, the Innocence Commission had an expert panel investigating claims of wrongful conviction and had generated a dozen exonerations.
It’s interesting to see that many of these reforms have especially benefited African-American defendants, which is a relevant piece of the Lake family history. Lake’s father, I. Beverly Lake, Sr., is noted as having failed to recognize the vital necessity of civil rights well into the start of the movement. He continued to embrace a segregationist platform even while running against Terry Sanford in the race for North Carolina governor in 1960.
Perhaps this complex family background–a history that changed and evolved along with our times–is behind Lake’s dedication to the North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission. He considered that work to be his legacy.
Until the end of his life, Lake spoke proudly but humbly about his accomplishments, simply saying he did his best to guarantee our state criminal justice system worked fairly for everyone.
We will miss him.
Brother Louis Burney Theta Tau 265
Wake Forest Magazine – Summer 2019 – page 98
Louis A. Burney ('57, JD '59), Dec. 19, 2018, Wilmington, NC. He served in the U.S. Army in Austria. He practiced law for more than 50 years in the Wilmington area, primarily at Burney Burney & Jones, and served as president of the New Hanover County Bar Association, He was a member of many civic organizations and Temple Baptist Church, serving as a deacon and trustee. He was preceded in death by his father, John J. Burney (JD '26), brother, John J. Burney Jr. ('50, JD '51) and a granddaughter.
Berry, Wilburn (Will) E.
Apr 10, 2017
CLEMMONS - 2/16/38 - 4/7/17 Dr. Wilburn (Will) E. Berry Jr., 79, of Clemmons passed away 4-7-17 at Forsyth Medical Ctr after a brave battle with cancer. He was born in Morganton 2-16-38 to Ruth H. Berry & Wilburn E. Berry, Sr. of Drexel. He received his BS Degree in 1960 from Wake Forest where he was a Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity member. He received his optometric training at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis. He served on The Board of Directors for The NC Eye & Human Tissue Bank with his good friend & founder, Dr. L. B. Holt. He was a member of The American Optometric Association & The NC Optometric Society for over 50 yrs. He enjoyed history, cooking, music, Wake Forest football & basketball, cars, boats, the beach, family, friends, optometry & his patients. He is survived by his loving wife of 35 years, Jane Quinn Berry of Clemmons, his son, Christopher Berry, his wife, Shannon Berry, two grandsons, Scott & Evan Berry of Charlotte, one sister, Elizabeth Woody & her husband, Bill Woody of Drexel. His sense of humor, selflessness & huge heart will be greatly missed but NEVER forgotten. The family will host a private memorial service celebrating his life. Please make memorial contributions to The American Cancer Society by calling 1-800-227-2345 or going to donate3.cancer.org.
Brother Walt Thompson (T 747, B.S. '78, M.A. '79) who served as High Alpha (1977 - 1978) has recently been elected President of Board of Trustees of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). ACSM is the world's largest sports medicine and exercise science professional organization with over 50,000 members, student members, and certified health fitness professionals.
He will be installed at ACSM's annual meeting to be held in Denver (June 2017). After receiving a PhD from The Ohio State University in 1983, Brother Thompson held positions at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, the University of Southern Mississippi, and, for the past 22 years, Georgia State University in Atlanta. He is a regent, professor, and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research in the College of Education & Human Development. While at Wake Forest, Brother Thompson was an Exercise Science major and was twice named the Most Valuable Player on the WFU Demon Deacon Track & Field team.