William B. Traxler '70
In his application to Davidson, Bill Traxler noted that having a lawyer for a father had a great deal to do with his career intentions, but that he was most eagerly looking forward to the new opportunities and stimuli constantly presented by the law. Those observations by the 18-year-old from Greenville were an astute preview of a legal career which has taken Bill from the Davidson campus to the most distinguished and challenging levels of the Federal judiciary.
Though Bill had his eyes firmly fixed on his legal career from his earliest days at Davidson, he also played freshman baseball and a wide variety of IMAC sports, was a member of Phi Delta Theta, Chair of the Social Council, a member of Scabbard & Blade, and earned a place on the Dean’s List. After Davidson he served a brief tour in the United States Army and earned distinction as a member of the Law Review and Omicron Delta Kappa at the University Of South Carolina School Of Law. Upon admission to the bar Bill joined his father in law practice. In 1975 he was called to put aside private practice to join the Solicitor’s Office, investigating criminal cases of every sort, from shoplifting to prescription drug abuse by varsity athletes at Clemson. By 1981 Bill’s successes led to his appointment by Governor Dick Riley as Solicitor for the 13th Judicial Circuit of South Carolina.
His legal expertise and dedication to the public good took him to the next level when the South Carolina General Assembly elected him a resident state trial judge in 1985. While on the state court bench Judge Traxler’s intelligence, exceptional civility, commonsense approach, and fairness attracted the admiration not only of other judges and attorneys, but marked him as a man who was destined for a larger judicial role.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Judge Traxler for a Federal trial judgeship, on the United States District Court for South Carolina. In 1992 he was elected by the judges of the Fourth Circuit to the Board of Directors of the Federal Judges’ Association. On July 10, 1998, citing his judicial temperament and intellect, Senator Fritz Hollings recommended him for advancement to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He was nominated for that position by President Bill Clinton, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on September 28, 1998, and serves in that capacity to this day.
We honor you for your accomplishments as a lawyer and jurist, for your years of contribution to the life of our College and the Episcopal Church, and not least for your devotion to your wife Patricia and your sons William III and James. You embody the best in Davidson’s tradition of servant leadership, and for that reason the Davidson College Alumni Association is proud to bestow upon you this Distinguished Alumnus Award on the occasion of your 25th reunion this 30th day of April.