2012 Awards - Wilson Center Newsletter, May 2012

Patrick Henry Awards 2012



W. Birch Douglass '65

Our first recipient is an alumnus of the class of 1965.  An outstanding student, Birch Douglass was a member of the football team and brother in the Kappa Alpha fraternity.  He was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Delta Phi while at Hampden-Sydney.  Following graduation, Birch entered the University of Richmond Law School where he received his law degree in 1968.  He attended Harvard Law School in 1969, completing his LL.M.  A partner with McGuire Woods in Richmond, Birch has built a very successful practice specializing in tax law and charitable giving.  Birch has memberships in far too many affiliations to mention - the Virginia State Bar, the American College of Tax Counsel, and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, are just a few.  In 2011, he was named "Richmond Tax Lawyer of the Year."   He has been identified as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" by Woodward/White for over 10 years running, and a "Super Lawyer" every year from 2006 to 2011.   

Outside of his law practice, Birch and his wife Ginny have been strong supporters of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the University of Richmond, Hanover Tavern Foundation, and the Rosewell Foundation.  He served on the Board of Directors for the Fine Arts Museum from 1995 to 2008, and as their president from 2004 to 2007.  At the University of Richmond, he has been on the Board of Associates, serving as the Chairman of the Board and a member of the Advisory Committee on Estate Planning.  He is a recipient of the Alumni Award for Distinguished Service from the University of Richmond.

Birch was a founding member of the Hanover Tavern Foundation's Board of Directors.  He served as President of the Board of Directors from 1995 to 1996 and recently Birch returned to their Board of Directors. 

Over the years, Birch has served Hampden-Sydney College with loyalty and devotion.  A current trustee, he was first elected to the Board in 1991.  He served as the Vice Chairman in 2000.  He is a recipient of the Keating Medallion which recognizes outstanding service and extraordinary dedication to Hampden-Sydney College.  In 2005, Birch received an Alumni Citation in recognition of service to the College, support of its activities, financial commitment to the future of the institution, and, above all, for steady demonstration of the excellence that is the hallmark of the Hampden-Sydney man. Hampden-Sydney College is pleased to recognize the outstanding career of Birch Douglass, a dedicated public servant and model alumnus.



roperRobert P Roper '68

Robert P. Roper graduated from Hampden-Sydney in 1968 with a Bachelor's in Economics.   After graduation he worked as a real estate developer in Charlottesville before joining Philip Morris in New York City in 1974.  He held a series of marketing positions until becoming Director of Brand Management in 1985. In 1987, Bob transferred to Philip Morris International and he and Kathy moved to Tokyo, Japan.  While there he served as President of Philip Morris Japan and created the company's marketing strategy for Asia.  Bob returned to New York in 1993, where he assumed the position of Vice President of Marketing for Philip Morris International.   He retired in 1995 and moved back to his native Virginia where he built a home on Burton Point in Hallieford. 

Since moving to Virginia, Bob and Kathy have lent their talents to numerous endeavors to help the residents of Mathews County and Virginia.  In 2000, the Ropers established the Robert & Kathleen Roper Family Fund to support general charitable purposes in the area served by the Mathews Community Foundation with priority given to organizations meeting the needs of at risk children.  The fund has provided grants to support the Boys and Girls Club, the Fresh Start Program at Hands Across Mathews, the Continental Society and art programs for underprivileged children at the Bay School. Bob is the former chairman of the Mathews Community Foundation.

Bob also serves as Chairman of the Advisory Council of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science where he contributed to the VIMS Strategic plan.   


PaceG. Michael Pace '79

After graduating from Hampden-Sydney in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, Mike attended Washington and Lee Law School where he received his law degree in 1984.  While at HSC, Mike was a brother with Pi Kappa Alpha and captain of the golf team.  He was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership society.  Today, Mike is the managing partner of Gentry Locke Rakes & Moore, in Roanoke.  Mike served the Virginia Bar Association as its president in 2008 and he has been a board member of the Virginia Law Foundation.   In 2009, the Virginia Lawyers Weekly named Mike one of twenty-eight "Leaders in the Law: statewide." 

Mike has garnered special recognition across the Commonwealth for the role that he played as the founder of the highly regarded Virginia Law Foundation & Virginia Bar Association's Rule of Law Project.   What started as a dinner table conversation with his daughter in 2008 has become a full-fledged nationally and internationally recognized multi-faceted rule of law education program that is expanding in all directions.  Mike and the Virginia Bar Association have partnered with judges, lawyers and teachers to provide students with an enriching, interactive experience about the importance of the rule of law in their daily lives and to give them a better understanding of the need to preserve and protect due process of law as the foundation for the rights and freedoms we enjoy.  The Rule of Law Project includes public and private, elementary, middle, and high schools in approximately one-third of the 136 school districts in Virginia.  In November 2009, the World Justice Project selected the Rule of Law Project as one of five international programs featured at the World Justice Forum II in Vienna, Austria.   This year, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond introduced the project in each of its 29 schools. As Mike has noted, "we learned that the power of a simple idea can change the world one student at a time.  We learned that educators are passionate about what they do, and are hungry for more resources to help them teach their students more effectively.  We learned that students can understand the meaning of the rule of law and relate it to their daily lives and their futures."  According to Mike, "There has never been a more important time to teach our children and remind adults why our uniquely republican democratic form of government has endured for over 200 years, and that the rule of law must be preserved and protected in order for it to continue."

In addition to his work with the Rule of Law Project, Mike serves on the boards of LEAD Virginia, the Business Leadership Fund, the Business Council, the Roanoke Regional Partnership, SunTrust Advisory Board, not to mention several other civic and charitable boards.  He is a trustee of Hampden-Sydney College and a past president of the Hampden-Sydney College Alumni Association.  He serves as an adjunct professor at Roanoke College.   Hampden-Sydney, the greater Roanoke area and the Commonwealth of Virginia have benefited from Mike's generous civic spirit.