Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Foundation Wall of Honor
On February 18, 2010, the Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Foundation dedicated the Wall of Honor at the M.C. Blanchard Judicial Center. The wall is a memorial to honor the deceased attorneys and judges of the First Judicial Circuit who have served the profession and the community.
Participating in the dedication ceremony were Florida Bar President Jesse Diner, Florida Bar Foundation President Adele Stone, First Judicial Circuit Court Chief Judge Terry Terrell, Escambia County Clerk of Court Ernie Lee Magaha, Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Association President Valerie Prevatte, Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Foundation President Stephen Echsner, and Escambia Board of County Commissioners Chair Grover Robinson.
Since its inception in 1985, the foundation has awarded grants to area schools for costs of student courthouse tours, to the local junior college for scholarships in legal studies, to community child literacy programs to publish books on the U.S. Constitution for distribution at elementary schools, and to various other endeavors to increase public awareness of the judicial system. It has also supported the efforts of the Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Association’s Young Lawyer Division’s Holidays in January program.
The foundation has tried to find a consistent and substantial funding source to establish an endowment from which to provide these grants. Until now the primary funding source had been donations from Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Association members with occasional revenue from the bar association sponsored Law Week 5K runs and 100K bike rides. All revenue was typically given in community grants as quickly as received and the foundation never made substantial progress in building its endowment.
In 2006, the foundation board of directors explored the idea of establishing a memorial plaque in the M.C. Blanchard Judicial Center as a fundraising vehicle. The plaque would honor deceased attorneys and judges with a donation made to the foundation on behalf of the honoree.
At first a traditional wooden plaque was considered, until Deputy Court Administrator Shelia Sims challenged the foundation to develop a display to pay tribute to the honorees and add beauty to the courthouse environment. Borrowing ideas from other nonprofit organizations, the foundation board explored various display designs. Finally, the foundation contacted a display design company in St. Louis, Missouri. After a visit to Pensacola and tour of the courthouse, the designer recommended several concepts for consideration.
The original concept incorporated etched Plexiglas with ambient lighting and built-in television monitors to communicate daily courthouse and legal community information. The initial plan was to adhere the individual memorial plaques to the front of the Plexiglas. However, once the display was installed, two Plexiglas sections were added with the honorees’ names engraved into the glass similar to the original design artwork. The final product turned out to be a combination of beauty and functionality.
The foundation worked closely with the Escambia Board of County Commissioners on the project. Shelia Sims and the First Judicial Circuit court administration assisted with the planning, installation, and ADA compliance of the project.
The Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Foundation was established in 1985 as a charitable 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to foster:
• Greater accessibility to the judicial system,
• Improvements to the overall quality of the administration of justice,
• Law-related education and increased public awareness of the judicial system, and
• Improved management and operation of the court system.
Mike Doubek is the executive director of the Escambia/Santa Rosa Bar Association.