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William L. Thorp

William L. Thorp
Status: Deceased

(1925 - 2001)

Bill Thorp died in 2001 at 76 years of age. Named in Bill's honor, The William L. Thorp Pro Bono Service Award is given annually to lawyers who provide exceptional pro bono legal assistance to low-income citizens in North Carolina.

In 1963 after Bill served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, he began his law practice in Rocky Mount, NC. In addition to his law practice, he served on the advisory committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, working as director of the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union.

In the early 1980s, Bill won his first million-dollar case on behalf of Larry Downes, a boy who had been born with a cleft palate. Dr. Clipenger at Duke told Larry and his mother that he could fix it and he'd be "perfect." Larry had always wanted to talk like Paul Harvey and sing like Elvis, so they agreed to proceed with the operation. The surgery was successful, but something went terribly wrong while Larry was in the recovery room. He ended up "a vegetable." After turning down a huge $300,000 offer, the jury warded Larry $1.75 million. This was the case that brought Bill to the attention of the Inner Circle.

Bill loved life and lived it to the fullest. He had fun without limit at just about everything - especially dancing. His joy in life was contagious. His was not the innocence of youth, he was no arrested adolescent, his enthusiasm for experience, his insatiable curiosity, and his compassion for others endured despite a full measure of challenges that he faced during his life. His advice to all was always, "Work like you don't need the money, Dance like no one is watching, and Love like you have never been hurt."

Bill lived the life he preached until his sudden death in 2001.
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