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Boyd B. Massagee Jr., a 'lawyer's lawyer,' dies at age 81

Boyd B. Massagee Jr., one of the old lions of the Henderson County Bar and a highly respected attorney who practiced in Hendersonville for more than 50 years, died Thursday at the Elizabeth House. He was 81.

Born Sept. 25, 1932 in Greenville, N.C., Massagee grew up in Hendersonville.

He earned his undergraduate degree from Davidson College in 1954. Between college and law school, he served two years in the Army, and served after his active duty discharge in the National Guard, achieving the rank of captain.

In 1959, he earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina, where he was a member of the Delta Theta Phi law fraternity, and was admitted to the North Carolina Bar the same year. He served on the Board of Editors for the University of North Carolina Law Review in 1958-1959, and was a member of the Henderson County and North Carolina State Bar Associations and the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers. He had the highest ratings in both peer review and client review scores published by Martindale-Hubble, a service that conducts surveys of lawyers' performance and clients' satisfaction with their work.
small boydBoyd B. Massagee Jr. [Photo by Prince, Youngblood and Massagee Law Firm]A principal of Prince, Youngblood and Massagee, one of the oldest firms in Hendersonville, Massagee was respected as a trial lawyer and appellate lawyer. His influence lived on in the generations of attorneys that followed him, whether in his firm or at others. His peers knew him as a lawyer's lawyer, tough in fighting for his clients, thorough in his preparation and execution and always willing to share his knowledge and experience.
"Boyd Massagee was really a giant in the legal community in Henderson County," said Tim Mullinax, an attorney in Hendersonville. "I remember when my son came to practice with me within a couple of days he came to speak with me and he said if he could help Matthew in any way he would. He said he had experience having a son come practice with him and he might be able to give me some helpful information. His word was always something you could count on."
Massagee's son, Boyd B. "Buddy" Massagee III, followed his father into the legal profession, joining the Prince, Youngblood and Massagee firm after earning his law degree from Wake Forest University. A granddaughter, Sarah R. Massagee, an honors graduate of UNC who earned her law degree at the University of Iowa, is now a member of the firm, too.
"For more than 50 years, Boyd Massagee served our community with the highest legal competence and the utmost professionalism," the Henderson County Bar said in a statement. "His influence reaches far beyond his own practice and into the practices of the numerous past and current local attorneys whom he mentored during their careers. He was an exceptional attorney and he will be dearly missed."
Massagee's passion for law was so strong that he never considered giving it up.
"He told me once he was different from me," Mullinax said. "He said, 'You're looking for a way to retire. I'm looking for a way to keep practicing law.' He loved practicing law."

After graduating from law school, Massagee returned to Hendersonville and joined the prestigious law firm of Prince, Jackson and Youngblood in 1959. Although he was considered a general practitioner, he was quite fond of litigation and was very comfortable in the courtroom at a very early age. He loved the English language, and immensely enjoyed retrieving words from his extended vocabulary. He was a member of numerous associations including the Henderson County Bar Association, the North Carolina Bar Association as well as the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers. In February 2014, he was inducted into the North Carolina Bar Association Hall of Fame, one of the highest honors bestowed on a North Carolina attorney.

Attorney Ron Blanchard has known Massagee since he started practicing in Hendersonville more than three decades ago; in fact, Massagee, 16 years older than Blanchard, was one of the first lawyers he met.

"It's a tremendous loss to the legal community in Hendersonville and to me personally," he said. "He and I traveled well together, and we practiced law against each other and sometimes with each other for 35 years. He had a great sense of humor, he loved his family and loved his community."

Like other lawyers, some a few years younger and some 50 years younger, Blanchard never forgot Massagee's generosity in helping.

"On the second day I was here I called Boyd for help with something and he stopped what he was doing and came up to my above office over the Farnsworth Furniture Store and helped me quite a bit — and he didn't know me from Adam's house cat. I was a young lawyer that needed help."

Massagee is survived by his son, Boyd "Buddy" B. Massagee III and his wife, Sally, of Hendersonville; two daughters: Mary Louise Massagee of Washington, D.C., and Charlotte Anne Massagee of Libya; five grandchildren: Sarah R. Massagee and Kelly J. Massagee, both of Charleston, S.C.; Rachel M. Brackett, Lucy K. Massagee and Tyrean K. Massagee all of Hendersonville. Seven great-grandchildren: Alana R. Jackson, Elliott M. Jackson, Myles Brackett, Colin Boyd Brackett, Abraham R. Jones, Keellen D. Smith and Kahn'yae D. McGrady.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, at St. John In The Wilderness Episcopal Church, where he was a member, with the Rev. John A. Morton officiating.

While his peers retired in their 60s or 70s, Massagee kept going to the courthouse, writing briefs and making arguments.
Did it surprise Blanchard that his friend kept working?

"No, not at all," he said. "I'm surprised he quit now."