Wednesday, May 14, 1997

WRITER: Kathy R. Pharr, (706) 542-5172

CONTACT: Paul M. Kurtz, (706) 542-7140


ATHENS, Ga. -- A memorial service for Shelley Diane Knox, a third-year student at the University of Georgia School of Law, will be held Thursday, May 15, at 5 p.m. at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 498 Prince Avenue. Ms. Knox, 23, died in her Athens home Monday, May 12.

"The law school community is grief-stricken," said Associate Dean Paul M. Kurtz. "It is a tragedy for the institution and for all of us as individuals."

Ms. Knox, a resident of Germantown, Tennessee, was scheduled to graduate from law school on May 24, and would have earned a concurrent graduate certificate in women's studies in June. She had recently accepted a public interest position with VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), working on an energy project in Montana, a job friends say she had been hoping for all year.

Student colleagues remember Ms. Knox as a committed public servant who embodied the highest ideals of the legal profession. Civil Clinic Director Alex Scherr, who taught Ms. Knox in the law school's Public Interest Practicum for the last two semesters, called her an "extremely tenacious and spirited" caseworker who managed a heavier client load than most of his other students.

"She was very committed to her clients and the work she was doing," said Prof. Scherr. "She would pursue anything that she felt was unjust or wrong. She had a very strong, definite sense of right and wrong -- a very strong, definite sense of how her power as an attorney should be used to help people, and was devoted to acting on that sense."

Ms. Knox worked primarily in PIP's fieldwork project: she met clients in locations such as homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and the Salvation Army, and contacted service providers who could help them with legal information or referrals in matters such as child custody, legal name changes, government and financial assistance, and landlord-tenant disputes. For two years, she also worked at least five hours a week, frequently more, in the law school's Protective Order Project, helping victims of abuse to obtain court protection from their abusers. In addition, she was a volunteer crisis counselor at Project Safe, the local shelter for battered women and their children, and had worked as a juvenile advocate.

Ms. Knox interned at the U.S. Department of Labor last summer under a fellowship awarded by the Equal Justice Foundation, a law school student organization. She was also a finalist in the nominations for this year's Georgia Association of Women Lawyers Award for the Outstanding Woman Law Student.

Ms. Knox earned her undergraduate degree in political science in three years from the University of Georgia, and was selected in spring 1994 to participate in an exchange program in history and government at Oxford University in Oxford, England. She was a 1993 Panhellenic Foundation Scholarship recipient, and had been a member of Delta Gamma Sorority, the Young Democrats of Clarke County, the Criminal Justice Society, the Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Chapter, and the Psychology Club. She had also worked as a campaign volunteer in the 1992 and 1994 elections.

Ms. Knox was a 1991 cum laude graduate of Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, Tennessee. She is survived by her parents, Tracy and Nancy Knox of Germantown, Tennessee; a sister, Stephanie J. Knox, of Germantown, Tennessee; and by her grandparents, Marie Knox of Fairmont, West Virginia, and Dr. and Mrs. John J. Spanabel of Seven Springs, Florida.

Thursday's memorial service will be officiated by the Rev. Tim Graham, and will include eulogies from Caldwell Professor Milner Ball of the School of Law, who is an ordained Presbyterian minister, and several of Ms. Knox's classmates. Ms. Knox's remains will be interred in Christ Episcopal Church in Fairmont, West Virginia, the city where she was born.

Memorial services will also be held at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Collierville, Tennessee on Sunday, May 18, 1997 at 2 p.m. with the Rev. Jamie Cubine presiding.

Lord & Stephens Funeral Home in Athens, Georgia (706-546-1587) is in charge of the arrangements.