Earle ôNeilö Wester III, 61, of Dalton, died Thursday, Jan. 25, 2006, ending his long battle with colon cancer and complications from diabetes. A lifelong Dalton resident, Neil graduated from Dalton High School in 1962. He received his bachelorÆs of arts degree in political science from The Citadel in 1966 and started law school at the University of South Carolina the following year. He interrupted his legal education to serve as an officer in the United States Army, where he was assigned to work in ôchemical, biological and radiological warfareö and then later in ôintelligence.ö While serving in the Army from 1967 to 1970, he performed post-graduate study in political science at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Upon leaving the service and graduating law school, he joined the firm of Mitchell and Mitchell and began his practice of law, focusing on civil and criminal litigation, in both state and federal jurisdictions. In 1982, he was elected chairman of the criminal law section of the State Bar of Georgia, and in 1983 he chaired a conference in Savannah on the Georgia death penalty statutes. Neil also served as president of and was on the board of directors of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He was also active in the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and was a member of the criminal justice section of the American Bar Association. In 1985, he represented all criminal attorneys from Georgia at the ABAÆs annual meeting in London and attended as this stateÆs liason for the criminal justice conference in Dublin, Ireland in 1989. Neil was a stalwart member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and had been awarded the ôAVö rating from Martindale Hubble, their highest rating for any attorney. Neil also served as city judge, appointed to the position by the Dalton mayor and City Council, serving from 1975 to 1986. He had previously served as district representative and enjoyed serving as a member of the Executive Board of Directors of the Northwest Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America. Neil also proudly served with several local environmental groups, like Trout and Ducks Unlimited, that sought to prevent unnecessary exploitation of local wildlife habitat, like his cherished Chattahoochee National Forest. In 1999, he was commended for his support in those charitable and community endeavors when he was awarded the prestigious Silver Beaver medal. He is survived by his wife Sarah æSallyÆ Butler Wester of Dalton; sons, Dell Carden Wester of Dalton, Lee Jones Wester of Atlanta, Earle Neil æBuzzÆ Wester IV and his wife Alison N. Wester and their daughter, Sarabeth Margaret of Marietta; and many beloved nieces, nephews and cousins. The Wester family are members of the First Presbyterian Church of Dalton The family has requested that flowers be omitted and donations be made to the Northwest Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America, P.O. Box 1422, Rome, GA 30162-1442. Services are Saturday at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Dalton with Dr. Guy Griffith officiating. Burial will be in West Hill Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the funeral home today from 5 to 7 p.m. Love Funeral Home, 1402 N. Thornton Ave., Dalton is in charge of arrangements.
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