Bill Horton, longtime ABA leader and past Health Law Section chair, dies at 63
William “Bill” Horton, a longtime leader in the ABA Health Law Section, died Tuesday from cancer.
Horton, the head of Jones Walker’s Birmingham, Alabama, office and co-chair of the firm’s Healthcare Industry Team, served as chair of the Health Law Section from 2015 to 2016. In 2017, he became the section’s delegate to the House of Delegates.
Horton served in many other roles with the ABA, including as a member of the Commission on Youth at Risk, Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education and Standing Committee on Publishing Oversight, according to his firm biography.
The Health Law Section held a virtual ceremony honoring Horton on Thursday. ABA President-Elect Mary Smith gave a tribute to Horton in a video message, describing him as “a servant leader, a philosopher, a friend and a lawyer,” and adding that he could be “self-deprecating.”
Smith shared part of an email Horton sent her: “Changing topics, I just wanted to throw something out there as to which there is no need for reply. Should you find yourself in the unlikely position of having a shortage of married, cis-hetero, Protestant, 60-something white guys practicing in reasonably large law firms who are willing and able to serve on your Presidential Appointments Committee, I would be honored to be considered.”
“Well, with an email like that, I basically had no choice,” Smith said. “Needless to say, I asked Bill to be part of my appointments committee, and I’m so glad that I did. There are those lawyers whom the ABA changes, and there are those who change the ABA. Bill Horton is one of the latter.”
As part of the ceremony, the Health Law Section formally recognized Horton with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Horton was born in Demopolis, Alabama, in 1959. He graduated from Vanderbilt University, magna cum laude, with a bachelor’s degree in economics/business administration in 1982 and from Duke University School of Law in 1985.
Before Horton joined Jones Walker, he practiced at Johnston Barton Proctor & Rose and Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker in Birmingham. He was previously general counsel of HealthSouth Corp. He also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Alabama School of Law and as a clinical associate professor at the School of Optometry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
“We are deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Bill Horton after a brave battle with cancer,” Bill Hines, Jones Walker’s managing partner, told the Birmingham Business Journal. “He was a true friend and mentor to all he encountered and we are sending our condolences to all who knew and loved him, especially his family.”
Horton is survived by his wife, Judilyn Brooks; five children, Elizabeth Denise, William Reid, Lindsay Grace, Alex Brooks and James Credeence; and grandchild, Benjamin Dario Mendoza.