William L. "Bill" Kirby II, a well-known Columbus defense attorney, has died after a lengthy bout with cancer, his office confirmed today. He was 64.
Despite his illness, Kirby had continued practicing until as recently as Feb. 23, when he appeared in federal court to defend a Fort Benning soldier being sentenced in a child molestation case.
"Bill was an advocate and a very good lawyer and a fighter, so he always took up whatever the challenge was as difficult as it was at times,” said Richard A. Bunn, Kirby's former law partner.
Kirby had been involved in a number of high-profile cases over the years. In 1984, he served as the first court-appointed defense attorney for Carlton M. Gary, the convicted "Stocking Strangler" who now sits on Georgia's death row.
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“Bill, to my knowledge, had no enemies. Considering he was a lawyer, that’s amazing,” said Frank K. Martin, the former Columbus mayor and a veteran defense attorney. “He was always very nice to everybody, and has left his law practice in good hands with his son, Will.”
Others in the legal community expressed dismay today at Kirby's passing.
"Bill has suffered a great deal over the past few years. All the judges respected him very much and worked with him on schedules around his medical treatments," said Superior Court Judge Bobby Peters, who knew Kirby for several years. "His passion was his family and practicing law with his son, William Kirby.
"You never die as long as someone remembers you," Peters added. "Through his son, Bill Sr. will be remembered and missed for many years to come. He was a good man whom everyone enjoyed being around and associating with."
Funeral services are scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday at Striffler-Hamby in Columbus. Visitation is set for 5-7 p.m. Friday, according to the funeral home.