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Magic W&L Moment

Two of Washington and Lee’s most distinguished alumni shared a special moment on Wednesday, Jan. 18, when the Virginia House of Delegates honored its longest-serving member.

Lacey Putney, of W&L’s Classes of 1950 and 1957 Law, this month began his 51st legislative session as an independent delegate, from Bedford, Va.

To recognize Lacey’s service, his former W&L classmate, Sen. John W. Warner, of the Class of 1949, paid a surprise visit to Richmond and received the rare opportunity to address the delegates. Listen to a recording of that presentation below:


AUDIO:


In his remarks, the senator noted that he and Lacey had plenty in common: “You remember, Lacey, there were a lot of elegant fellows in that fraternity. There were the ones that had a lot of change in their pockets. And then you and I — we didn’t have a lot of change in our pocket…. But we started there together, and we formed that friendship. And to think 66 years ahead, Lacey is now starting his 51st year as the longest-serving member of this distinguished body.”

John, of course, who retired from the U.S. Senate two years ago, holds the record as the second-longest-serving Virginia member of that institution. The alumni magazine profiled him on the occasion of his retirement; you can read that article, by Andy Thompson ’00, here.

John, who attended the University of Virginia Law School, went on to credit the Honor System of both schools as a key element in the development of his and Lacey’s careers.

When he took the podium, Lacey called himself “the least likely student in the state of Virginia to attend a school like Washington and Lee.”

He added: “Through those years, the friendships that developed, the spirit that you come away with from Washington and Lee, has been far better articulated to you by John than I can. He is one of the real outstanding graduates of that school. I am honored to have been a friend and associate of his there. The only mistake that I know he ever made was that he should have gone to law school at Washington and Lee, instead of U.Va.”

Both men received lengthy standing ovations from the delegates, and Lacey told a reporter after the ceremony, “I’m just stunned and more than honored. He said a lot of nice things that I don’t deserve, but you always like to hear it.”

The event itself was historic. Other than governors, who address the joint legislature annually, and clergy, who deliver a daily invocation, the last dignitary to address the House from the dais was Queen Elizabeth, in 2007.

To watch video of the event as part of a report by Washington and Lee alumnus Joe Dashiell, Class of 1980, go the WDBJ7-TV site.