Home » Past Obituaries » John Jay Hooker Jr.

John Jay Hooker Jr.

john jay hookerMr. Hooker was a longtime lawyer, politician, entrepreneur, social justice advocate and proud resident of Nashville, TN. The son of John Jay Hooker, Sr. and Darthula Williamson Hooker June, John Jay Hooker, Jr. and his father practiced law together before he and his brother Henry Hooker started their own firm of Hooker, Hooker and Willis. John Jay considered his brother to be his greatest collaborator and smiled at the mention of his name. As a duo, their talents in law, politics and business opened doors to new ideas.

John Jay Hooker was a thinking man who believed that in all matters the secret to success was to “fish in the right pond, with the right bait and the right people.” He came in his final days to poignantly add the words, “at the right time.” He knew that too often his timing was early in others’ opinions but he still forged ahead. He chose to live his life responding to the times at hand with a firm handshake, a pat on the back and a clenched fist hold on his vision for the future. Influenced by his dear friend John Seigenthaler, together the two took important risks to bring awareness to the struggles of those denied their civil rights. And together they changed the conversation. Mr. Hooker, who loved nothing more than someone to play catch with, found in Mr. Seigenthaler his most beloved pal. Countless others across generations supported Mr. Hooker in his campaigns and made his dream of public discourse for the greater good possible. He was a man intimate with the nature of challenge and preferred its merit to the easier way. Benefitted by excellent education at Parmer School, Sewanee Military Academy, Graham-Eckes, Montgomery Bell Academy, University of the South and Vanderbilt Law School, his oratory skills engendered respect even by those on the other side of his issues, as did his courage and conviction. As a descendant of William Blount, a signer of the Constitution, Mr. Hooker felt honored to do his part to keep its powers relevant in present times. John Jay gave his last energy to the cause of a human being’s right to suffer less at life’s end. His efforts across decades to assist the living in need of help carved a path that led him inevitably to assist the dying. He had talked a great deal about this privately long before his own illness gave him standing. In his final case he was tirelessly represented by his confidant and lawyer Hal Hardin and esteemed colleague Cindy Chappell. In his last and greatest fight to live meaningfully he was cared for by the honorable Dr. Judson Rogers. And in all things he was helped by his greatest friend Grant Browning and was steadied by his faithful lunch companion Al Thomason. The friendship of Governor Winfield Dunn was a source of joy for John Jay and taught others reams about the meaning of the constitution of men in public service and private moments.

Mr. Hooker had prepared to deliver a final speech on the virtues of the law and the civic responsibility to be its honest critic and advocate. Unfortunately unable to make it, he would find great peace in knowing that others will carry on the courageous work of search for truth and justice. He last held especially dear the words in Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, “That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience….that no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.” He implored more of us to engage with the Constitutions of our great country and state in his high hope that in doing so we would be brought closer to the essence of our own inner constitution.

Mr. Hooker will be remembered as a fighter as well as a gentle soul who loved his fellow man and as the father of four children, Dara Hooker, Kendall Hooker Hinote, John Blount Hooker (daughter-in-law Dixie Gaw Hooker) and James Lovell, and grandfather of Jacob, Grace, Nathan and Anna Hooker. John Jay was fortunate to be married twice in his life, to Tish Fort and Paula Lovell, as well as to have the devotion of Jennifer Oakley in the years after. The children are grateful to them for all their love, knowing he was a better man for having them as partners. The admiration in their eyes when they looked at him built his belief in his own possibility. He knew well the importance of family, perhaps first of all from his sister, Teenie Buchtel. He remembered with affection the presence of extended family, notably his sister-in-law Alice Ingram Hooker, and his literal brother-in-law Gilbert Merritt, nieces and nephews John Jay, Brad, Timmy and Lisa, Stroud, Louise Clark and Eli, Terence and Garth, and Ellen. What he felt for Minnie Seagraves and her protection of his children left him humbled and grateful. The kindness showed to him by those at Park Manor, Sarah Cannon Cancer Center and Alive Hospice will never be forgotten.

If one man with courage is indeed a majority, Hooker wins by a landslide. If a man who has even one friend upon his death has amassed a great fortune, then given his depth and breadth of true friendships, he dies wealthier than he had ever been before. If one’s ex-anything sitting by one’s bedside at last breath is considered an affirmation of a life well lived, then Tish’s presence there proves by all accounts that matter that he did.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Nashville School of Law, Attn. John Jay Hooker, Jr. Scholarship Fund (4013 Armory Oaks Dr, Nashville, TN 37204). The Nashville School of Law is recognized for its strong commitment to preparing practice-ready graduates who achieve their education through hard work, tenacity and grit. Their fortitude is admirable. For questions call 615-780-2242.

The family has arranged for a private burial service. A memorial visitation will be held on Saturday, February 6, at the Nashville Downtown Public Library in the Grand Reading Room. Remarks will begin at 1 o’clock with a visitation with family to follow. Note that the library closes at 5pm. The Main library is located at 615 Church Street, Nashville, with a parking garage on the corner of 7th and Church Street. Valet parking at the front door will be available for those in need.

LIGON & BOBO FUNERAL HOME of Lebanon in charge of arrangements.

Messages for the Family

  1. Sharon Elaine says:
    I’m so sorry for your loss. My deepest condolences to the family. May the “God of all comfort” clothe you with His tender mercies. I hope that you find peace in your precious memories and in the promise of the resurrection to life eternal. John 11:21-25. Revelation 21:3,4. Acts 24:15. Heartfelt prayers are with you.
  2. Mary Wise Prendergast says:
    I hope Mr. Hooker’s family knows how important he was to so many people.
  3. Joe L.Bass says:
    A great human being and Tennessean.
  4. Phil Clinard Jr says:
    Mr. Hooker treated me with respect. I would speak to outside the Watuga many times. He will be missed. Charles P. Clinard Jr. Nashville.
  5. Diane Wyckoff says:
    Remembering John Jay with as a wonderful example of a life lived well and to the fullest measure. Love, prayers, and peace to the entire family, Diane
  6. Newton Robinson says:
    I have been a fan of Mr. Hooker since the 60’s when I heard him speak and saw the way a crowd reacted to him. Such a great man.
    My sincere sympathy to the family.
  7. steve sadler says:
    John Jay was a great dear friend of my son, Brandon and me. I can never thank John Jay
    enough for all the great memories and times we had together. Just to name a few, being his guest at the grand opening of the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville in 2007, attending a University of Tennessee football game, being his guest at the Hooker/Kelsey amendment 2 debate at the UT Law School in 2014, the 100+ times we went out to eat and just had a great time together. Thanks to you John Jay for the support you gave me during the untimely deaths of Brandon and my Mom and attending their funerals. I remember a Christmas Day you called me after losing a tooth and I came and retrieved it in the trap of your bathroom sink. We were close dear friends for 20 years and I am going to miss you.
  8. gwen keylon says:
    John Jay hooked was so awesome to my father James Davenport Cookeville th..they spent many years with great respect for each other. You will be missed.
  9. Sandra M. Goad says:
    John Jay was an ole Southern Gentleman. He was outspoken and said what he thought. John Jay Hooker was bigger than life.
  10. Tricia says:
    I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Please take comfort in Jehovah God words at Ps.34:18 “he is close to the brokenhearted; He saves those who are crushed in spirit. He promise us there will be a resurrection and sickness and death will be gone forever.” Acts 24:15;Rev.21:3,4
  11. James Faucette says:
    I was sad to hear and read about Mr. Hooker’s department from this earth. I did not personally know him that well, but for several Saturday’s he and another friend of his would come to Calhoun’s Restaurant at White Bridge road and have a light lunch. I am very political and he was a inspiration to me for what he stood for. I plan on being at the library on Saturday and meeting some of his family.
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