Darlington recognizes Thuston ('67) as Distinguished Alumnus
10/13/2017 12:45:00 PM, 715 views
As Darlington kicks off its Alumni Weekend celebration today, the Alumni Office is pleased to announce that Lee Thuston ('67) is the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus Award.
“Our Distinguished Alumnus is a graduate who exemplifies the school's motto: Wisdom more than Knowledge; Service beyond Self; Honor above Everything,” said Linda (Grizzard) Owens (’79), chair of Darlington’s Board of Trustees. “To his Darlington friends and classmates, Lee is affectionately known as ‘Stretch.’ He has had a very distinguished career in law and made a huge impact in his home state of Alabama. Throughout Lee’s life, he has shown his love for the school and others by illustrating compassion, staying connected, and confidently leading by example. He truly seeks to improve the greater good.”
Thuston is an attorney and the current chairman of Burr & Forman in Birmingham, Ala. As a boarding student at Darlington, he was president of his senior class and a member of the basketball team, the Pep Committee, and The Darlington Players.
He went on to earn his B.A. from the University of Virginia and his J.D. from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law before serving as a law clerk for Honorable Justice Richard L. Jones on the Alabama Supreme Court. Following his clerkship, he received his LL.M in Taxation from New York University.
As chairman, Thuston oversees the Burr and Forman’s Executive Committee as well as strategic initiatives, business development, and client service programs. Prior to becoming chairman, he had served as firm managing partner since 2005. He practices in the corporate/tax practice group, focusing on economic development, business and succession planning, trusts and estates, tax law, and international law.
Thuston is a driving force behind Alabama’s economic development and has played a large role in some of the state’s major manufacturing deals. For this work, he was named one of the state’s Most Influential Executives by Birmingham Business Journal. In addition to working with state government and the departments of commerce, local government, and developers, Thuston is actively involved with the Birmingham Business Alliance, the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association, the University of Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Alabama Wildlife Federation.
To describe the impact Darlington has had on his life, Thuston shared a story about a recent fishing trip with classmate Larry Williams (’67).
“Every year, Larry and I go fishing on Memorial Day weekend,” he said. “We sit in boat and we talk about our families, our businesses, what we’ve done right, wrong, successes we’ve had and mistakes we’ve made. This past year, the conversation was a little bit different and more retrospective…
“We were sitting there talking and one of us said, ‘You know, it all began at Darlington,’” he continued. “So then we start talking back and forth. Larry says, ‘Think about it, Thuston, we learned how to work hard, discipline, how to study hard.’ I say, ‘We learned people skills, leadership skills, friendship skills.’ Larry says, ‘We learned to express ourselves verbally, in writing.’ I say, ‘We learned morals, honesty, integrity, keeping your word.’ So, we keep going back and forth about all the preparation we received here, and it was an interesting conversation.”
A proud alumnus of Darlington, Thuston is a former member of the Board of Trustees, a Board of Visitors Emeriti, and a longtime class agent and supporter of the school. He also served as chairman of the Birmingham-area Design for Darlington Campaign. He and his wife, Gray, have two grown children, Will (’00, LD ’12) and Thames.
“A good friend of mine once told me, ‘Luck is where preparation meets opportunity,’” Thuston told students at the award presentation. “Well, Larry and I have had a lot of opportunities [in life], and what preparation we had we got here at Darlington. I’m just another old geezer sitting up at the mic, I know. But take advantage of everything this school has to offer. It will prepare you. It will get you ready for the next 50 years.”
Established in 1983 by the Alumni Council and sanctioned by the Board of Trustees, the Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes Darlington and Thornwood alumni who have achieved prominence in their profession and/or community. Recipients are selected based on the following criteria: notable achievement within a professional field; service to community, state, or nation; service to the arts, sciences, or humanitarian causes; and loyalty to Darlington as demonstrated by service and/or financial support.
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