The Columns

Oldest Practicing Lawyer in New Mexico Dies at 97

— by on September 5th, 2012

Two years ago this month, we published a blog item about Lynell Skarda, a 1941 graduate of the Washington and Lee School of Law who was then, at 95, the oldest practicing lawyer in New Mexico.

We received word this week that Lynell died at his home in Clovis, N.M., on Sunday night, about a week after his 97th birthday.

The story about Lynell’s life and death in the Clovis News Journal includes some terrific anecdotes. For example, he tried a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954, and he happened to witness the detonation of the first atomic bomb in 1945.

The paper also noted that he had a habit of offering short answers to most questions. The following Q&A appeared in a 2010 Clovis News Journal story, when he was 95:

• What would you be doing if you weren’t doing your job? “Looking for work.”

• In an alternative life I would have been an … “Ape.”

• Tell us about a happy time. “All the time.”

• What do you envision your life being like in 10 years? “Dead.”

Lynell’s long life made us wonder about the oldest living alumni at Washington and Lee, so we consulted alumni records and discovered that we boast two alumni who are 100 — Paul E. Holbrook, of the Class of 1933, and Herbert Rudlin, of the Class of 1943. Less than two weeks from now, Paul will become the oldest when he turns 101.

The late Dr. Harry Neel of Albert Lea, Minn., had been W&L’s oldest living alumnus when he died in October 2009 at 103.