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October 31, 2014

Focus on Professionalism: Charles Grubb

If you know Charles Grubb, you probably know he loves to travel. What you may not realize is his penchant for Byzantine travel. Charles will fly to Chicago by way of Canada. Or, he may travel to San Francisco via Michigan—all by train.

Last September, Charles retired as Caddo Parish Attorney. For eight years serving as the assistant parish attorney, I was blessed to work with Charles. One of the most rewarding aspects of working with Charles was learning where and how he would travel next. What I couldn’t imagine was how much his legal career paralleled his circuitous travel.

Charles was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, but was raised in New Orleans. After graduating from St. Martin’s Episcopal School, he attended Tulane University. After his freshman year, Charles transferred to Centenary College here in Shreveport. Graduating from Centenary during the height of the Vietnam War, he joined the Army Reserve as a combat medic. He then entered law school at Tulane University. After law school, Charles returned to Shreveport to seek employment, and he did this in a way I find absolutely amazing—he cold-called law firms. During his job search, he visited the firm of Bennett Johnston Sr. Mr. Johnston Sr. actually came out and spoke with Charles. Although he did not have a position to offer him, Mr. Johnston got out the Yellow Pages and went through the listings of advertised attorneys and told Charles something about each of them. While Charles will not reveal what Mr. Johnston told him, he says that through the years, he learned that nearly all of it was correct.

Eventually, the Metropolitan Planning Commission hired Charles to administer federal projects, including an urban renewal project on the Shreveport Riverfront. It was during this time that Charles met Shreveport City Attorney John Gallagher. Charles went to work for Gallagher as an assistant city attorney, and his career in municipal law truly began.

On John Gallagher’s death, Charles was appointed Shreveport City Attorney under Mayor Calhoun Allen. During this time, Charles helped shape the new form of Shreveport City government by doing the legal work on the new home rule charter. I always wondered how he still knew the city charter so well after so many years. When I interviewed Charles for this article, he finally revealed to me that he was largely responsible for writing the city charter. After Mayor Allen’s administration, Charles remained city attorney under Mayor Billy Hanna, and eventually did another stint as city attorney under Mayor John Hussey. That Charles was able to survive three different administrations is telling not only of his legal acumen but also of his great character and personality.

After nearly 20 years working for the City of Shreveport, Charles opened his own practice. In 2002, he became Caddo Parish Attorney. Lest we forget, while building his legal career, Charles also was pursuing a military career. In 1997, he was deployed to Germany as part of Operation Joint Guard, and after 35 years of service, Charles retired from the military with the rank of Command Sergeant Major. He still serves as a mentor for students considering military careers, as well as for students considering legal careers.

So what is Charles doing now that he’s retired? Working. But he swears it’s part time (excluding the time he spends answering my questions). He also likes to fish, exercise, and, of course, travel. Most weekends, you can find him running with his dog, Savannah, either in his neighborhood or near the river. But if you ever want to see him light up from within, ask him about his grandchildren. Spending time with them is a mandatory part of his routine.

Charles, we thank you for both your military and government service. We treasure you as a great mentor and friend.

Donna Frazier is Section Vice-Chair and the Parish Attorney for the Parish of Caddo, Louisiana. This article is reprinted from 21 The Bar Review No. 3 (March 2014), at 10, published by the Shreveport Bar Association. Reprinted with permission.