On Wednesday, May 27, 2009, at 9:30 a.m., in a special ceremony, the original portrait of The Honorable George Dewey Oxner (1898 - 1962) was presented to the South Carolina Supreme Court. The portrait was given to the Court by the Oxner family. The formal presentation was made by Justice Oxner's son, George Dewey Oxner, Jr., Esquire. Justice Oxner served as a member of the Court from 1944 until his death in 1962.
Justice Oxner was born in Laurens County, March 13, 1898; he attended Newberry College where he achieved recognition as one of the outstanding students and was graduated with a B.A. Degree in the Class of 1916, when only 19 years of age, with high scholastic honors.
After teaching school for one year in Raeford, North Carolina, he entered the Law School at The University of South Carolina. While at the Law School, he was President of the “Law Association” and on June 9, 1920 he received an LL.B degree with first honors in his class.
Justice Oxner commenced the practice of law in Greenville, S.C., and after a short period of time, he became a partner in the law firm of Nettles & Oxner. He was elected to the House of Representatives from Greenville County in 1928 and in 1930 ran first in his race for re-election. He was subsequently elected Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the position which he held when he was elevated to the Circuit Bench.
On October 25, 1930, he married Frances Ruckman of Staunton, Virginia, and she was an inspiring force behind his numerous achievements during his entire married life. Of this happy union, two sons were born, George Dewey Oxner, Jr., and Glenn Ruckman Oxner.
On January 13, 1932 Judge Oxner became the youngest Circuit Judge in the State. He was elevated to the bench to succeed the late Judge T. J. Mauldin of Pickens. In 1939, the Selden Society of the University of South Carolina Law School announced that Judge Oxner had the least number of reversals by the State Supreme Court of any Circuit Judge during the period from 1928 to 1938. Of 61 decisions appealed from his Court, the Supreme Court reversed him in only eight cases. On January 19, 1944, in recognition of his outstanding record as a trial judge, Justice Oxner was elevated to the Supreme Court.
The sincerity of his private character gave strength and luster to his public service. He was endowed with a simplicity of manner and mode of life which is the crowning result of the finest nature.
The above biography was selected from portions of The Honorable W. Walter Wilkins’ remarks during Justice Oxner’s memorial ceremony held by the Supreme Court of South Carolina on May 17, 1963. The entire memorial ceremony is contained in Volume 242 of the South Carolina Reports.