Obituary of Billups Phinizy Percy
Billups Phinizy Percy, retired law professor, Tulane University Law School, died January 18, 2013, at Christwood Nursing Home in Covington following a brief illness with family at his side. He was 91.
Percy was born January 3, 1922 in Birmingham, Alabama, the youngest of three sons of Leroy Pratt and Martha Susan Phinizy Percy. He moved to Greenville, Mississippi at age 7 following the death of his father. Following his mother's death two years later, he and his brothers were adopted by their cousin, the poet and writer William Alexander Percy. Mr. Percy was the grandson of U.S. Senator LeRoy Percy and great grandson of Colonel William Alexander Percy, a Civil War hero known as "Gray Eagle of the Delta".
Mr. Percy served as an officer in the U. S. Navy during World War II, having graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1942. He served as the captain of a PT boat during the Solomon Islands campaign and later served aboard a submarine which completed three successful combat patrols in Japanese Empire waters. Mr. Percy was awarded the Silver Star Medal and the Bronze Star Medal (with "V").
While in the South Pacific he served for a time with the squad which included PT 109. He was on PT 162 on the fateful night when a youthful John F. Kennedy's boat was shipwrecked. Mr. Percy and Kennedy, who were wartime buddies, remained in touch until career choices separated their pathways. Mr. Percy often referred to this period of his life with special enthusiasm as the perils of war took him into the South China and Yellow Seas aboard the submarine Sea Robin under Lieutenant Commander Paul C. Stimson.
After war's end and a tour in the Canal Zone, Mr. Percy continued his education with courses at The University of the South. He went on to law school at the University of Virginia, where his father, uncle and grandfather had studied.
Following law school, a friend's introduction to a vivacious Manhattan publishing executive, Jaye Dobbs, set Percy's new course. After a courtship that included World Series games at Yankee Stadium, they were married and toured Europe. They settled in New Orleans where Mr. Percy joined the law faculty at Tulane and taught Constitutional Law for over 30 years.
The Percys were lifelong members of Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans. Mr. Percy served with distinction on the Board of the Milne Home School for Boys, United Way, New Orleans Chapter, Children's Bureau and Metropolitan Crime Commission.
Phin, as he was called by friends and family, was preceded in death by his beloved bride of 51 years, "Jaye Bird" (2004), their infant daughter, Belinda Pratt Percy (1958), his parents, his adoptive father and his two brothers, LeRoy Percy (2004), community leader and businessman from Greenville, Mississippi and Walker Percy (1990), celebrated Southern novelist from Covington, Louisiana.
He is survived by four children; William Alexander Percy, III of New Orleans, Camille Alexandra Percy Raulston of Covington, Melissa Phinizy Percy Spalding of Atlanta, and Billups Phinizy Percy, Jr. of New Orleans; and four grandchildren: Phinizy Percy Spalding, Camille Alexandra Spalding, Emily Jaye Raulston and William Percy Raulston.
The family expresses deep appreciation to Christwood Skilled Nursing staff and Canon Hospice of Covington for the loving care they rendered in Mr. Percy's behalf.