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Wofford College to Honor Alumni Justices

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

SPARTANBURG, SC—Three of the five S.C. Supreme Court justices will be honored by Wofford College with honorary doctor of laws degrees during commencement exercises on Sunday, May 19.

The three are all graduates of Wofford—John H. Waller Jr. (Class of 1959), E.C. Burnett III (Class of 1964) and Costa M. Pleicones (Class of 1965).

Honoring them will be a highlight of Wofford’s 148th commencement exercises, which will be held on the lawn of Main Building beginning at 9:30 that morning. As has become the custom, President Benjamin Dunlap will be the speaker.

Activities during Commencement Weekend will include the ROTC Commissioning Ceremony on Saturday, May 18, at 11 a.m., followed by the baccalaureate worship service at 4 p.m., led by the Rev. Dr. Talmage B. Skinner Jr. (Class of 1956), Perkins-Prothro chaplain and professor of religion.

While Waller, Burnett and Pleicones majored in different subjects at Wofford, after their student days, their careers developed on parallel courses—service in the Army, law school at the University of South Carolina, private practice as attorneys-at-law, and election to the state judiciary by the General Assembly.

For the past several years, they have served together as three of the five justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court.

Waller came to Wofford from Mullins, S.C. After graduation, he served in the Army for two years, and then completed the USC School of Law in 1963. He practiced law in Mullins and was elected to five terms in the state House of Representatives, where in 1975-76, he was the majority leader. After a term as a state senator, he became a circuit judge in 1980. He was seated on the state Supreme Court on June 29, 1994.

He was a charter member and first president of the Mullins Rotary Club and is active in other civic and fraternal organizations as well as Macedonia United Methodist Church. He is married to Debra Anne Meares Waller and is the father of four children—John H. Waller III, Melissa Waller Spearman, Ryan Meares Waller (Class of 2005) and Rand Ellis Waller.

After graduating from Wofford, Burnett served two years as an officer in the Army, a tour of duty that included a year of service in Vietnam. He then earned his J.D. at USC in 1969 and began the private practice of law in his native Spartanburg. In 1973 and 1974, he was a member of the state House of Representatives. Before being seated on the Supreme Court on April 10, 1995, he served successively as probate judge, family court judge and circuit judge.

Burnett is a elder at Mount Calvary Presbyterian Church. He is a life member of Sertoma International and winner of the organization’s Distinguished Honor Club President’s Award. He is married to Jami Grant Burnett. They have three children—E.C. Burnett IV, Sharon Burnett West and Jeffrey Burnett, and two grandchildren.

Pleicones, who grew up in Columbia, graduated from the USC Law School in 1968. He then served in the Army first as an enlisted member and as an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. He continued to serve in the Army Reserve until 1999. His practice of law included service as a public defender, municipal judge and county attorney. In 1991, he became a circuit judge and was seated on the Supreme Court on March 23, 2000. He is married to Donna Singletary. They have two daughters and one grandchild. He is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church.