John Robert ‘J.R.’ Hooten (’63) elected to N.C. Bar Association Hall of Fame

The four newest members of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) General Practice Hall of Fame were inducted on Thursday, June 19, at the 116th Annual Meeting in Wilmington. Among the inductees is Wake Forest University School of Law alumnus John Robert “J.R.” Hooten (’63) of Oriental.

Attorneys comprising the 2014 induction class include Edmund I. Adams of Sparta, Thomas C. Worth Jr. of Raleigh and the late Boyd B. Massagee Jr. of Hendersonville, who was inducted posthumously.

 The Hall of Fame, sponsored by the NCBA’s Solo, Small Firm & General Practice Section, was established in 1989. This year’s induction class brings membership in the Hall of Fame to 146 attorneys.

Massagee Jr., who died March 13, was inducted posthumously by his son, Boyd Massagee III. Whitney Ivey inducted Adams, Isabel Worthy Mattox inducted Worth and Tommy Morris inducted Hooten.

Outgoing NCBA President Alan Duncan presided. Sherry Everett, past chair of the Solo, Small Firm & General Practice Section and chair of the Hall of Fame Committee, introduced the nominators.

Hooten was born in Lenoir County and graduated from Grifton High School in Pitt County. He proceeded to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated in 1957. While serving three years active duty in the Marine Corps, where he attained the rank of captain, he was assigned to and participated in numerous special courts marshal, resulting in his becoming interested in the field of law and deciding to attend law school.

Upon his release from active duty military service in December 1960, Hooten was accepted at Wake Forest Law, where he graduated in 1963. He was admitted to the practice of law later that year and served a law clerk to Judge John D. Larkins Jr., U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of North Carolina. In November 1963, he became an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Hooten entered the private practice of law on Jan. 1, 1966, when he became employed as an associate of Thomas J. White Jr. in Kinston. The following year he was made a partner and practiced under the firm name of White, Hooten & White until 1970 when the firm name changed to White, Allen, Hooten & Hines as a result of a merger with another Kinston law firm.

He has served as president of the Lenoir County Bar Association and is the immediate past chairman of the NCBA Senior Lawyers Division. From 1969-81 he served on the Kinston City Board of Education, the past nine years as chair, and was named Citizen of the Year in 1976 by the Kinston/Lenoir Chamber of Commerce. His numerous civic contributions include membership in the Kinston and Oriental Rotary Clubs, in which he is a five-time Paul Harris Fellow.

Hooten and his wife, Esther, have three sons, John, Michael and Robert, and six grandchildren.