Prichard Committee Member William “Bill” Garmer passed away peacefully surrounded by family on July 30, 2021, in Lexington. Bill became a member of the Prichard Committee’s board of directors in 2011 and was serving as Secretary/Treasurer at the time of his passing. He joined the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence in 2010.
“Bill was a giant among attorneys – and men. He was one to always greet you with a smile that felt like a warm embrace,” said Prichard Committee President & CEO Brigitte Blom. “We enjoyed seeing Bill and his wife often at Courtyard Deli near the Prichard Committee office downtown. I so enjoyed his stories of legal success and arguing before the Supreme Court. Oh, how he will be missed.”
Born in Baltimore, MD, on May 8, 1946, Bill was the son of Grace DeLane Garmer and William McKinley Garmer. The family moved first to Media, Penn. Then, to Carrollton, Ky. Bill graduated from Carrollton High School and received his undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky, where he was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Following his graduation from the University of Kentucky in 1968, Bill served in the United States Air Force from 1969-1973, achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant. Following his service, Bill enrolled in law school at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas.
Returning to Kentucky, he transferred to the University of Kentucky College of Law, receiving his law degree in 1975. Following admission to the bar, Bill served as a clerk to the Honorable Bernard T. Moynahan, Jr., Chief Judge United States District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky, from 1975-1977. Following the Federal clerkship, Bill began the practice of law in Lexington, establishing himself as a premier lawyer who represented clients and their families throughout the state and country for over 45 years, seeking fairness and justice.
As a lawyer, Bill changed the lives of those he met, of those clients he represented, the lives of fellow lawyers, and through significant cases in the Kentucky Supreme Court, changed the law in Kentucky. The pain and struggles of those individuals he represented marked Bill. He carried their burdens fiercely and never released them. Bill was a lawyer’s lawyer, a true southern gentleman of great intellect, and a kind soul. Bill also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law from 1981-2018.
The teaching of young people was a task that brought immense satisfaction and joy. In his law practice, he mentored hundreds of law students as clerks. Deeply loyal, Bill treasured the professional and personal relationships and friendships he made throughout his law practice and through his service to the many professional organizations to which he belonged. Memberships and service included: President of the Kentucky Bar Association, 2017; President of the Kentucky Academy of Trial Attorneys, 1994, and also as a recipient of the Peter Perlman Trial Lawyer of the Year Award; Fellow, Kentucky Bar Association; Fellow, American Bar Association; Chair of the Council of State Presidents of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America; Member, Trial Lawyers For Public Justice; member, Southern Trial Lawyers Association; and Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers. In addition, Bill received the University of Kentucky College of Law Alumni Hall of Fame award in 2014, was named by Super Lawyers as one of the Top 10 attorneys in Kentucky, 2019-2020, and as one of the Top 50 attorneys in Kentucky, 2008-2018. Also listed as Best Lawyers in America and Who’s Who in American Law, 1987-present. Throughout his career, Bill provided Continuing Legal Education seminar lectures for numerous legal organizations and associations. Following a lifelong commitment to promoting public education, Bill became a board member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. A lifelong Democrat, Bill was Chair of the Kentucky Democratic Party in 2004. Bill was a dedicated and faithful member of the Presbyterian Church, with First Presbyterian Church and Second Presbyterian Church, both in Lexington.
Visitation will be from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Wednesday, August 4th at Milward – Broadway located at 159 N. Broadway. A memorial service will begin at 11:00 am the following day, Thursday, August 5th at Second Presbyterian Church located at 460 East Main Street, Lexington. The family asks instead of flowers, to please contribute to the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, the Lexington Humane Society, Old Friends Retired Thoroughbred Farm, or charity of choice. We strongly encourage you to adhere to whatever public gathering guidelines that have been put in place by state and local public health officials. To share a remembrance of Bill or to offer condolences to his family, please visit milwardfuneral.com.