Class of 1944
Honorable Thomas Carey Wicker, Jr., (“Tom”), peacefully passed away on February 24, 2021. Tom’s adventurous 97 years were defined by his dedication to his loved ones and to service. Tom’s dedication to service was marked by his lifelong passions for both Tulane University and the United States Navy. These passions began in 1940 when Tom entered Tulane University College of Commerce and Business Administration, joining the Naval R.O.T.C. Unit. Upon his graduation from Tulane on February 1, 1944, Tom was commissioned as an ensign, eventually receiving promotions to lieutenant (junior grade) and gunnery officer, in the United States Navy. Tom received orders to report to the U.S.S. Lackawanna in the Pacific Theatre. During his tour of duty, Tom proudly served as an officer of the deck of a ship that was part of Admiral Halsey’s Task Force, participating in six campaigns, including the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the recapture of the Philippines, and Okinawa. When the Navy released Tom to inactive duty in the Naval Reserve in August 1946, Tom returned to Tulane and entered law school. Tom graduated from Tulane Law with accomplishments which befitted his dedication to legal study. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Tulane Law Review from 1948-1949 and was named a member of the Order of the Coif (a National Legal Scholastic Fraternity). Upon his graduation from law school and admission to the Louisiana Bar, Tom served as law clerk for Justice E. Howard McCaleb of the Louisiana Supreme Court. He then served as an Assistant United States Attorney, during which time he received a letter of commendation from J. Edgar Hoover and the United States Attorney General for successfully prosecuting a particularly difficult case in federal court. In 1953, Tom entered the private practice of law. Tom’s work in private practice continued until 1972 when he decided to run for election as a judge. Tom’s decision was a fruitful one. He was elected District Judge for the Parish of Jefferson, 24th Judicial District Court, where he was the first judge to sit in Division “H.” Tom remained there until December 1985. At that point, Tom decided to run for promotion to the Louisiana Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal, again successfully. He served on the court until his retirement from the Fifth Circuit on August 1, 1998. After retirement, and not one to sit idly by, Tom sat ad hoc on the Louisiana Supreme Court on numerous occasions. During his distinguished judicial career, Tom strived to serve his chosen profession with a particular focus on professionalism and ethics. He spent 14 years on the faculty of the National Judicial College at the University of Nevada at Reno, the training program for state judges, of which he was also a board member. He also co-authored two books, Judicial Ethics (1975) and Modern Judicial Ethics (1992), both of which have been used as text books at the National Judicial College. And always one to return to Tulane’s campus when possible, he was a visiting faculty member at Tulane Law School. Beyond his dedication to the law, Tom worked fervently to advance sports in the New Orleans community. In 1967, he was a founding member of both the Green Wave Club and The Touchdown Club, Inc. In 1970, he served as President of The Touchdown Club, Inc. In 1973-74, he served as President of the Green Wave Club. That same year, he joined the Sugar Bowl Committee, where he ultimately served as president in 1986-87 and Chairman of the Executive Committee in 1989-90. His membership in these clubs was born out of true fanaticism. He was a Tulane football season ticket holder from 1940 until his death (although he would confess that he took a two-year sabbatical from renewing these tickets while he fought in the Pacific). He also was a season ticket holder for the Saints from the initial kickoff at Tulane Stadium until his grandson could take over the tickets from him. As evidenced by the above, Tom had a number of accomplishments and titles. Yet, for him, all paled in comparison to those of husband, dad, and “Paw Paw.” A family man, Tom’s favorite moments were those surrounded by his loved ones. He was blessed to have two loves of his life. He reveled in the accomplishments of his children. As he got older, he loved attending grandparents’ days, volleyball and soccer games, and ballet recitals, and, often bragging, he delighted in bringing his family to his regular haunts. He cherished discussing sports, books, school, dance, news, or anything of current interest to his grandchildren. During these discussions, never one to be reticent, Tom would listen and issue an opinion with a stubbornness matched only by his grandchildrens’. Tom’s final days were made particularly special as his newly-born, first great-grandchild offered his voice to talks with Paw Paw. These conversations will be sorely missed by his loved ones, but there is no doubt that Tom will continue to hold his opinions about whatever the family debate of the day may be. Tom is predeceased by his parents, Thomas Carey Wicker and Mary Taylor Wicker, his brother, Ralph James Wicker, his beloved wife, United States District Judge Veronica Dicarlo Wicker, and then his beloved wife, Jane Trepagnier Wicker. Tom is survived by his son Thomas Carey Wicker, III., (Fredericka), daughter Catherine Wicker West (Thomas), daughter Wendy Frilot Daboval (Daniel), and son James Maitland Frilot (Kim); grandchildren Freddi (Jeffrey), T.C., Ben, Patrick, Stephen, Catherine, Dwight, Dorothy, Robert (“Tito”) (Catherine), and Courtney; great-grandchild Gregory Wicker Bashaw; great-niece Jenny (Ben); and great-nephews Jim (Kelly) and Chris. The family would like to extend a special thanks to Rosemary Williams, who has been a steadfast, loyal, and loving caregiver for Tom, as well as for his predeceased wife Jane, for many years.
Published by The Times-Picayune from Feb. 26 to Mar. 5, 2021.