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Remembering W. Otis Higgs Jr., A Giant Among Men, “Remembering a Legal Luminary”

Remembering W. Otis Higgs Jr, A Giant Among Men

By: Lennard James

Every day, I find myself missing my uncle, a towering figure in both stature and ambition. He was a man who harbored dreams as grand as the Mississippi itself, with an unwavering desire to become the Mayor of Memphis. His name was W. Otis Higgs Jr., and his legacy is one that continues to inspire me to this day.  

Uncle Otis, as I fondly called him, possessed a wealth of knowledge and a sharp wit that kept me on my toes whenever we engaged in conversation. Reflecting on the lessons he imparted about life and family; I am reminded of the profound impact he had on me as both a pastor and a friend.  

Before he ascended to the bench as a judge for the Shelby County Criminal Court (Division II) in the Thirtieth Judicial District of Tennessee, Uncle Otis led a remarkable life filled with achievements that defied the odds. Despite not finishing high school, he managed to gain entrance to Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, where he became a proud member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity—a testament to his determination and intellect.  

After completing his undergraduate studies, Uncle Otis furthered his education by obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree from Le Moyne-Owen College and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Memphis. In 1967, he was admitted to the bar, marking the beginning of a distinguished legal career that would span decades.

Remembering W. Otis Higgs Jr, A Giant Among Men

Photo Courtesy: W. Otis Higgs Jr

But Uncle Otis was more than just a legal luminary; he was a pillar of the community, serving as a pastor for the CME Church. His commitment to faith and service guided his actions both inside and outside the courtroom, earning him the respect and admiration of all who knew him.  

Throughout his tenure as a judge, Uncle Otis earned a reputation for his fairness, wisdom, and compassion. He approached each case with meticulous attention to detail, ensuring that justice was served without bias or prejudice. His dedication to upholding the law and protecting the rights of all individuals left an indelible mark on the judicial system and the lives of countless individuals who appeared before him.  

Tragically, Uncle Otis’s journey was cut short on February 15, 2013, when he passed away suddenly at his home in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 75 years old. His untimely departure left a void in the hearts of those who knew him, but his legacy continues to shine brightly through the lives he touched and the principles he espoused.  

As I reflect on Uncle Otis’s life, I am reminded of his relentless pursuit of his dreams and his unwavering commitment to justice and equality. He may have never realized his dream of becoming the Mayor of Memphis, but in the hearts and minds of those who knew him, he will always be remembered as a giant among men—a man who inspired others to reach for the stars and never lose sight of their goals.  

In honoring his memory, let us strive to uphold the values that Uncle Otis held dear: integrity, compassion, and a steadfast belief in the power of justice to transform lives and communities. Though he may no longer walk among us, his spirit lives on in the enduring impact he made on the world around him. Rest in peace, Uncle Otis. You are missed, but never forgotten.


Published By: Aize Perez

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