District Judge Kent Coxsey dies at age 60

Thursday, September 14, 2006
District Judge Kent Coxsey

BERRYVILLE -- Carroll County lost another long-standing member of the legal community with the death of Berryville District Judge James Kent Coxsey, 60, on Sunday.

The news of his death traveled quickly, especially amon the legal community of northwest Arkansas. On Monday Judge Alan D. Epley granted a continuance of an appeal case slated for Wednesday, clearing his calendar to attend the funeral service.

"He brought a lot of joy to a lot of lives," said his sister, Cyntia Coxsey-Caton Monday afternoon. "He had a phenomenal sense of humor, and he will be badly missed."

Attorney Kent Crow, viewed by some as Coxsey's likely successor, stated, "For me personally, Kent was extremely generous with his time and his counsel andhis willingness to help new lawyers. I always found Kent to be a willing resource -- always willing to assist in any of my cases in which he wasn't involved. He was both a gentleman and a scholar."

But Crow also recalled Coxsey as "a worthy adversary in th courtroom. He was absolutely uncompromising in pursuit of his clients' cause, so that you always dreaded having Kent on the other side.

"For lack of better term," Crow continued, "he would show you no quarter."

As a judge in the district court Crow foun Coxsey "to be both fair and compassionate with those people who came before him._Again, he made the lawyers do their work when they came before him, yet he always treated lawyers with dignity and respect, and that was greatly appreciated."

Referencing th death of Coxsey's father,_Ted Coxsey, in 2004, Crow said, "It's a tremendous loss to the community so soon after the passing of his father, who was certainly one of the finest gentlemen the legal community had. ... I can't think of two more in the legalcommunity that would be missed more than Ted or Kent."

Judge Epley's regard for Coxsey is similar. "I've known Kent since I started practice in 1974, so our professional relationship goes back more than 30 years," he said. "I always considered Kent to be t the top of his profession. He zealously represented his clients."

Epley and Coxsey were municipal judges from Eureka Springs and Berryville, respectively, for several years. "We would trade cases back and forth on ones we couldn't hear," Epley recalled."I always found him to be -- one of the highest compliments to a judge -- always fair to everyone that came in front of him.

"I think that I can probably speak for every member in the bar in_Carroll County that we're all saddened by his passing, and not sur where the profession's going to go from here. It's left a big hole in the community. I always enjoyed talking to Kent in social settings, at bar meetings, and always found him to be accommodating and professional in every way."

In his professional capaciy, Coxsey was indirectly the subject of a 2001 editorial cartoon in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette regarding the so-called DWI_on Horseback case that was heard in his court.

Epley recalls giving Coxsey a ribbing about the case, as well as Coxsey's good humr regarding the cartoon. "He didn't shy away from making a tough decision like in that case," Epley said.

Coxsey's health had been deteriorating since last summer. His father and law partner, Ted Coxsey, died in February 2004.

Kent Coxsey was born in Berrville on_Feb. 3, 1946, a son of Theodore Pettit and Ree (Hanby) Coxsey.

He was a 1964 graduate of Berryville High School, and was graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1969 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration, and from the ofA School of Law in 1972 with a juris doctor degree.

He was a member of Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, the Arkansas Law Review, and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

He began practicing law in Berryville in 1972. He served as deputy prosecuting attorney, juvenle judge, city attorney, municipal judge, and after the municipal court was changed to a district court, as district judge. With his father, he owned and operated Coxsey and Coxsey Law Office.

A veteran, he served with the United States Army and Arkansas ational Guard for 23 years, retiring as a major. He was a member of Ashley Masonic Lodge #66 of Berryville; the Berryville Rotary Club; the Berryville Volunteer Fire Department; and Odd Fellows Lodge #82 in_Berryville. He served on the board of directors f First National Bank of Green Forest.

On Aug. 13, 1967, he was married to Jo Lynn (Phillips) Coxsey, who survives him, of the home._He is also survived by two daughters, Hilary Lyn_Coxsey and Jaren Elizabeth Coxsey, both of Fayetteville; his sister and bother-in-law, Cynthia and Darsol Caton, of Union, Ky.; two nieces, Danielle E._Caton, of San_Diego,_Calif., and Andrea N._Caton, of Covington,_Ky.; and a host of loving friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Memorial funeral services will be hld at 11 a.m. Wednesday,_Sept. 13, at First Christian_Church of Berryville with Pastor Paul Elliott and_Rev. Kevin_ Robertson officiating. Memorial donations may be made to the Berryville First Christian_Church, Berryville Public Library, Berryville Voluneer Fire Department, or the American_Cancer Society. On-line condolences may be sent to the family at nelsonfuneral.com.

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