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UK Law Alumni Association Recognizes 2019 Hall of Fame Inductees and Alumni Award Recipients

On June 12, 2019, alumni, family and friends gathered at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky to honor the 2019 UK Law Alumni Association Hall of Fame inductees and Alumni Award recipients. 

The UK Law Alumni Association Hall of Fame was established to acknowledge graduates of the College whose extraordinary professional success and contributions, profound positive influence on the College of Law, and high degree of character and integrity are recognized by their peers. 

Inclusion in the Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by the Association.

The 2019 Hall of Fame inductees are The Honorable Mary C. Noble, Don S. Sturgill (posthumous), and Robert T. Yahng.

The Honorable Mary C. Noble received her B.S. in English in 1971 and M.A. in Psychology in 1974, both from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, TN. She earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1981.

Justice Noble began her legal career with Bryan and Fogle, in Mt. Sterling, KY.  Thereafter, she started her own firm in Lexington, KY, practicing school law, personal injury, and criminal defense.

In 1989, Justice Noble was appointed Domestic Relations Commissioner for the Third Division of Fayette Circuit Court.  She was then elected as Fayette Circuit Judge for the Fifth Division of Fayette Circuit Court until 2006, when she was elected to the Kentucky Supreme Court, Fifth District. She retired from her role in December 2016.

While a Fayette Circuit Judge, Justice Noble made history as the first two-term, female Chief Judge in Fayette Circuit Court, one of the state’s original circuit courts. In her role as Chief Judge, she oversaw the construction of the Robert F. Stephens Courthouses and the subsequent move to the new Courthouses; and co-founded the Court of Justice Drug Court Program, which is now a statewide program.  Justice Noble also served on the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and is a member of its Hall of Fame. She was appointed to and served on numerous committees and boards related to the Court of Justice during her tenure as Circuit Judge.

During her ten-year service on the Kentucky Supreme Court, she was the first women to serve as Deputy Chief Justice and the first woman to preside over an oral argument before the Court.  She also chaired the Family Court and Juvenile Court Rules Committees, which drafted Kentucky’s first procedural rules for both Courts.  Justice Noble is the recipient of numerous awards for her judicial service.

Currently, Justice Noble is a partner at Noble Tate Neutrals, an alternative dispute resolution practice. She also consults on various legal matters.

Don S. Sturgill (1928-2002) attended Baylor Military Academy and graduated from Harvard University in 1950.  After serving as a second lieutenant in the Air Force, he returned to Lexington to attend the University of Kentucky College of Law.  In 1957, Don entered into private practice with Roy Moreland and Gardner Turner, forming the firm Sturgill, Moreland & Turner (now, Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney).

Early in his career, Don was appointed as Kentucky’s first Commissioner of Public Safety by Governor A.B. “Happy” Chandler.  Among his accomplishments as Public Safety Commissioner, was the creation of the Kentucky Driver Point System to identify persons who may be habitually negligent drivers. His work has been cited as a major factor in the reduction of road fatalities throughout Kentucky.

Following his term as Public Safety Commissioner, he joined Senators John F. Kennedy’s and Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential campaign staff in Washington, D.C., an opportunity made possible by the friendship he forged with Bobby Kennedy while he was at Harvard.

Don’s background as a thoroughbred owner and breeder enabled him to become one of the nation’s foremost equine attorneys. Don was involved in the syndication of about 75 thoroughbred stallions, including triple-crown winners Seattle Slew and Affirmed, and was a key figure in many significant racing law cases.  Don was instrumental in getting simulcast revenues distributed to horsemen when few were familiar with the emerging technology.

In 2000, Don received the prestigious Fayette County Bar Association’s Henry T. Duncan Award.  He was a member of the Fayette County, Kentucky and American Bar Associations, Christ Church Cathedral, the Keeneland Club, the Thoroughbred Club of America, and the Harvard Club of Lexington.  In 2015, Don was inducted into the American College of Equine Attorneys Hall of Fame.

Robert T. Yahng is a social science teacher at the Salesian College Preparatory High School, serving inner-city students in and near Richmond, CA.  His credentials also include teaching Honors/AP Economics and U.S. Government to high school seniors for over 18 years and co-authoring five U.S. History and U.S. Government high school texts.  In Spring 2019, Robert taught microeconomics at Berea College and has served on the Berea College Board of Trustees since 2002, currently serving as Chairman.

Born in China, and raised and educated in Kentucky, Robert graduated with a B.A. in History from Berea College in 1963 and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1967.  After graduating, he served in the United States Air Force, receiving an honorable discharge with the rank of Captain in 1972.

Robert joined Baker & McKenzie Law Firm as an associate in 1976, where he founded the Firm’s Taipei office; and assisted with the start-up of their Shanghai office.  He served several terms as managing partner of Baker & McKenzie Law Firm’s San Francisco/Palo Alto offices and several terms on their Policy Committee.  Robert is a former member of the Kentucky Bar Association and State Bar of California.

During his legal career, Robert authored articles, conducted seminars, and gave speeches for the AMA, AEA, and the Asia Society on international business legal practices.  As public governor of the Pacific Stock Exchange from 1999-2002, Robert was involved in reorganizing the Pacific Stock Exchange business model, which was later adopted by the New York Stock Exchange.

Following his retirement from Baker & McKenzie Law Firm in 1998, Robert was the Chairman of American Bridge through 2013.  American Bridge is an industry leader known for its construction of complex steel structures, especially bridges such as the original Bay Bridge, built in 1936, and newly completed Bay Bridge in 2013.

The three Hall of Fame honorees join the esteemed group of 74 other inductees honored since the Hall of Fame was established in 1996.  The inductees expressed gratitude for the honor bestowed upon them, the foundation provided by University of Kentucky College of Law, and for the people who have supported them during law school and throughout their careers. 

The UK Law Alumni Association Board of Directors also established five awards to honor graduates who have distinguished themselves by contributions to the practice of law and service to communities. Five Alumni Awards were presented:

Patrick Madden (’89), Professional Achievement
Dana Daughetee Fohl (’10), Young Professional
William “Bill” Baird, III (’69), Community Service
The Honorable Pamela R. Goodwine (’94), Distinguished Jurist
Whayne C. Priest, Jr. (’62), Legacy Award

The Professional Achievement Award recognizes a particularly noteworthy accomplishment in a given year but may be given to one who has achieved and sustained an extraordinary level of excellence in a particular area of the law or one’s chosen field.  The Young Professional Award recognizes individuals who graduated within the past 10 years and have distinguished themselves professionally in the community, or in some other fashion.  The Community Service Award is given to a graduate who has provided outstanding leadership in his or her local community, state or nation, to aid and benefit causes not necessarily related to the legal profession. The Distinguished Jurist Award is given to an individual who has distinguished himself or herself through a contribution of outstanding service to the legal profession.  The Legacy Award is bestowed upon an individual who graduated 50 or more years ago and has demonstrated exceptional leadership in his or her profession and/or community and has made a positive impact on the wellbeing of the UK College of Law, the Commonwealth of Kentucky or elsewhere in the nation.

The UK Law Alumni Association provides programs and events to recognize the outstanding achievements of College of Law alumni, support initiatives at the College of Law, and foster engagement among alumni, faculty and students.