Editor's note: Story updated to include official obit notice.
Eddie Christian Sr., a Fort Smith attorney known in wide legal circles as one of the best defense attorneys in the nation, has died following a fight with cancer. He was 72.
He is survived by his wife, Betty, daughter Gerri Ellen Adams, son-in-law Dennis Adams, granddaughter Ryann Adams, daughter-in-law Sara Glover Christian and granddaughter Regan Christian.
His son, Eddie Christian Jr., died in August 2010 the age of 48. Eddie Jr. was also well known in legal circles for his willingness to challenge authority.
Becky Ibson, who worked as Christian Sr.’s assistant for more than 39 years, said he enjoyed the work and the success he was able to acquire with his legal skills.
“He told me that we have had a good 39-year run practicing law,” Ibson said Monday afternoon. “He’s going to be missed, obviously. I know I’m prejudiced, but he was really great. ... It will be hard to replace someone like that.”
Friend and Fort Smith attorney Doug Smith said Christian was known for his legal skills and his dedication to family and friends.
“He was meant to be a lawyer,” Smith said of Christian, adding that his reputation was known well outside of the Fort Smith area. “He was very intent on doing the right thing for his clients, and he did it with absolute integrity.”
Fort Smith businessman Bennie Westphal said his father, Robbie, and Eddie Sr. were good friends, with the friendship often seeing the two join with others for lunch at the Broadway restaurant in downtown Fort Smith.
“He was just a brilliant attorney, you know, a really brilliant attorney in the courtroom who just also really enjoyed life. It is so sad to hear of his passing,” Westphal said.
THE OBIT FOR EDDIE CHRISTIAN
Eddie Christian Sr., 72, died on December 16, 2013 in Fort Smith.
Remembered as an outstanding trial lawyer, he practiced law in Fort Smith for over 45 years, including over twenty-two with his son, Eddie Christian Jr.
Eddie graduated from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1967, and achieved the honor of being named a fellow with the American College of Trial Lawyers, and consistently obtaining the highest rating among his peers through Martindale Hubble, which are honors limited to those who not only have distinguished themselves as having preeminent legal skill, but those whose ethics and community standing are exemplary.
Eddie was named as a Special Justice with the Arkansas Supreme Court in 1989. He served as the president of The Town Club, attended Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, and was an avid trout fisherman and Razorback sports fan.
While Eddie served his clients with an intellect and knowledge of the law which was outstanding, Eddie’s extraordinary talent was the ability to apply his knowledge by communicating and relating to others in a way which was on the level and down to earth.
Eddie is survived by his wife, Betty, to whom he was married over fifty years; his daughter, Gerri Ellen Adams; his daughter-in-law, Sara Christian; two granddaughters, Regan Christian and Ryann Adams; and his niece, Jami Hamby and her children Jonnessa and Aaron.
He was preceded in death by his son, Eddie Christian Jr., his brother John of Spiro, OK, and his parents, Eddie and Ellen.
Rosary and visitation will be 7:00 P.M. Thursday, December 19, 2013 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.
Memorial Mass will be 10:00 A.M. Friday, December 20, 2013, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church under the direction of Edwards Funeral Home.
Memorials may be sent to: Immaculate Conception Church or School, 22 N. 13th Street, Fort Smith, AR 72901.