TRIBUTE TO WILLIAM M. HAGOOD, III (BILLY)
December 16, 1938 – December 2, 2016
Billy Hagood was a great lawyer and a dear friend to us here at Love,
Thornton. Below is a tribute to Billy
that was shared at an ABOTA meeting wherein Billy was recognized for his
accomplishments as an attorney.
Billy was born on December 16, 1938 in Easley, South Carolina and was
a life-long resident of Easley except for his time away at Presbyterian
College, law school and clerkship with Judge Clement Haynsworth.
Billy’s roots are deep in Easley and Pickens County.
His Great Grandfather, William M. Hagood, was a pioneer in the
textile industry in Pickens County.
He founded Glenwood Mill in Easley and Pickens Mill in Pickens in the
Billy was a good athlete.
Theron Cochran, Billy’s classmate in high school and roommate and classmate
in law school, and law partner for almost 50 years said he first met Billy
when Billy was in the 5th grade at Northside, a city grade
school, and Theron was at Arial, a mill school.
Arial and Northside played each other in baseball and the scouting
report that Arial got on Northside before the game was that “you had better
watch that little lefthander as he is sneaky good”.
That sneaky good left hander was
Billy Hagood. Of course that can
be said about anything Billy did, “he was sneaky good”.
In high school Billy played football, although he only weighed 120
lbs soaking wet at the time, basketball, golf and pole vaulted in track.
In a high school football game against Laurens, Billy’s junior year,
Billy was playing defensive back and Laurens had at the time the best high
school football player in the state, named King Dixon.
Some of you may recognize that name, as King Dixon later teamed with
Alex Hawkins to lead South Carolina to one of its best football seasons in
years. During the Easley/Laurens
game King Dixon broke loose on one of his patented runs and Billy was the
only player that had a chance to stop King.
Billy was no match for King in speed, but King was no match for Billy
in brains. Fortunately, Billy
could run as fast backwards and sideways as he could forward.
Billy knew he could not tackle King unless he cornered him so Billy
ran sideways and back peddled pushing King to the sideline.
When the time was right, Billy hurled all his 120 lbs into King and
made a jarring tackle. However,
Billy paid the price as he “peed” blood for the next three days, but it was
worth it to him as he had “nailed the King”.
Billy was also quite a tennis player and giving up on a point was not
an option for him. Often when
his opponent thought the point was over, much to the opponent’s dismay, the
ball would come flying back over the net for a winner which Billy had made
on a dead run.
Billy graduated with honors from Easley High School in 1956.
He was also an Eagle Scout during that time.
He was active in his church in grade school, high school and as an
adult. One of his many
achievements was that he had perfect attendance in Sunday School from his
childhood through his second year at Presbyterian College (PC).
Billy graduated cum laude from PC in 1960.
While at PC he was President of Phi Kappa Alpha fraternity, a member
of Blue Key and a member of Sigma Kappa Alpha.
Later Billy was also a member of the Board of Trustees and Board of
Visitors at PC. As an alumnus,
he was awarded the Gold P for outstanding accomplishments in his chosen
profession. Billy graduated from
USC Law School in 1963 where he was a member of Wig and Robe an honor
society, Phi Beta Kappa, Law Review and Phi Delta Phi.
Billy graduated 2nd in his class from law school.
Following law school, Billy clerked for Judge Clement Haynsworth,
Judge of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
He joined the law firm of Love, Thornton, Arnold and Thomason, PA in
1964. Billy became a premier
Medical Malpractice defense attorney.
The attorneys at Love, Thornton can’t recall Billy ever losing a
medical malpractice case.
Billy’s last 15 years of his practice was devoted to mediation of civil
lawsuits. He was appointed by
Judge Larry (Choppy) Patterson to mediate all the asbestos cases in South
Carolina. That appointment was
continued under Judge Gary Hill after Judge Patterson retired.
Billy really enjoyed that work.
Billy talked with many physicians and physician groups at their
request as to how they could avoid malpractice suits against them.
As a result he authored
Physician’s Guide to Medical Malpractice in South Carolina which many
physicians still rely upon.
Billy was a member of the International Association of Defense
Counsel and a past member of American College of Trial Lawyers and this
organization, American Board of Trial Advocates.
He was also listed in Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers.
Billy also had many other interests.
He was a lover of the outdoors and engaged in many outdoor
activities. He hiked several
times in the Swiss Apps. He ran
several marathons, including New York, Washington, San Francisco and
Grandfather Mountain. He also
hiked many trails in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia.
He had a love for photography and made numerous pictures of
waterfalls on his hiking trips.
His love of photography led him to publish a booklet on South Carolina
waterfalls. Many of his waterfall
pictures hang on the walls at the office that he shared with Theron Cochran
at the time of his death.
Billy was a faithful, long time member of Easley Presbyterian Church
where he served as a Sunday School teacher, deacon, elder, clerk of sessions
and even completed a 9-volume history of the church.
At an early age his life was greatly influenced by his family’s long
dedication and love for the church.
Later in life, Billy studied theology under Dr. Richard Burnett at
Other than his faith in God, Billy’s family was the most important
thing to him. Billy and Beth
married during the summer between Billy’s 2nd and 3rd
year of law school. They were
married 54 years at the time of Billy’s death.
Billy and Beth had two beautiful children which they always adored,
Will and Virginia (Ginger).
Billy also had two wonderful grandchildren who he adored, Cougar and Coco.
Billy loved his grandchildren, and he spent a great deal of time
visiting his daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in South Africa.
Billy died on December 2, 2016 after a short but courageous battle
with gleoblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer.
Billy Hagood was a great attorney and a true friend to so many, and
he will truly be missed.