In Memoriam: Jerry Hafter, MDNHA Board Attorney

Jocille Hafter accepts a plaque from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area in honor of her husband Jerry Hafter's contributions to the MDNHA. She is pictured here with Dr. Rolando Herts, Dr. Myrtis Tabb, and Spencer Nash.

Jocille Hafter accepts a plaque from the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area in honor of her husband Jerry Hafter's contributions to the MDNHA. She is pictured here with Dr. Rolando Herts, Dr. Myrtis Tabb, and Spencer Nash.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area pays special tribute to Jerome C. “Jerry” Hafter. Jerry served faithfully as MDNHA board attorney from 2012 until he passed away in September 2016. His knowledge and expertise proved instrumental in the formation and growth of the organization. We appreciate his years of service, and will miss his guidance and his passion for the Mississippi Delta region.

Below is the obituary posted in the Clarion Ledger newspaper:


Jerome C. "Jerry" Hafter


Mr. Jerome Hafter, age 71, of Greenville, MS passed on September 23, 2016 at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville, TN. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, September 27 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm at The Delta Room in Greenville, MS and also on Wednesday, September 28 from 1:00—3:00 pm at Lakewood Funeral Home in Jackson, MS.

Jerome "Jerry" Hafter was a lifetime resident of Greenville, MS. He was the son of Jerome S. Hafter and Mary Margaret Fugler. His late father served as President of the Mississippi State Bar Association in 1953-1954. Jerry attended public schools in Greenville, MS and graduated as Valedictorian of his class in 1963. He received his B. A. Degree, summa cum laude, from Rice University in 1967 with a dual major in history and political science. At Rice, he was elected Student Association President and was selected for Phi Beta Kappa and received the Hugh Scott Cameron Award as the Outstanding Rice Graduate of the Class of 1967.

Jerry attended Oxford University in England, from 1967-1968, as a Marshall Scholar where he received his B. A. /M. A. with First Class Honours in the School of Modern History. His thesis on the Legislative History of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 won the Sara Norton Prize as the best thesis on a topic in American History or political science. Mr. Hafter received his J. D. Degree from Yale Law School in 1972. While at Yale, he was the Associate Editor of the Yale Law Journal, a Director of Yale Moot Court and student commander of the Yale University Army ROTC.

After serving as Student Commander of the Yale Army ROTC, Jerry was commissioned as an officer in the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. He served sixteen years on active duty and in the Army Reserve. In 1982, he mobilized with the 467th Engineer Battalion for active duty exercises on the East/West German border. As a result of the hard work of the soldiers under his command, Company D of the 467th, won the 1982 Itschner Award as the Most Outstanding Engineer Company in the Army Reserve. Jerry was an Honor Graduate of Engineer Officer Basic School and the U. S. Army Command and General Staff School. He was also awarded the Army Commendation Medal and Meritorious Service Medal.

In 1972-1973, Jerry Hafter served as law clerk to the Honorable Charles C. Clark of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In 1974, he joined the law firm of Lake Tindall LLP, which was founded by his late father. Jerry practice at Lake Tindall from 1974 to 2001. Lake Tindall was a mid-size, multi-office firm, where he specialized in contracts, corporate law and litigations, business organizations and agribusiness law.

Mr. Hafter joined Phelps Dunbar in 2001 as a senior partner in its Business Practice Group in Jackson, MS. He practiced in the areas of corporate law and litigation, contracts, real property, economic development, agribusiness, state and local taxation, intellectual property, bankruptcy and constitutional law. He was a frequent lecturer at CLE programs on topics in commercial and corporate law and bankruptcy.

Jerry was one of the limited number of Mississippi lawyers with an extensive international practice. Much of this experience is a result of his work as outside general counsel to Delta and Pine Land Company, one of Mississippi's oldest and largest publically traded companies. D&PL has been known as a preeminent breeder and seller of cotton and soybean seed. As part of his work with D&PL, Jerry did the legal work to establish D&PL operations in Australia, China, India, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Greece, Spain, Republic of South Africa and Zimbabwe. Hafter applied this experience to introduce a number of other Mississippi companies and Mississippi attorneys to international trade and licensing.

Jerry Hafter frequently served on a number of legal and government reform groups, including the American Law Institute and Common Cause Mississippi. Jerry also served his community as a member of the Greenville Public School District Board of Trustees from 1988 to 2013, including five terms as President and one term as Director of the Mississippi School Board Association. He was also President of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce, President of the Downtown Improvement Association and a representative on the Executive Committee of I-69 Mid-Continent Highway Coalition.

Mr. Hafter has served in a number of bar related leadership positions, including the President of the Washington County Bar Association, Chairman of the Section on Business Law, Director of the Young Lawyers Division, President of the Fellows of the YLD, Chairman of the Rules Committee of the Mississippi Bankruptcy Conference of the Mississippi Bar Association. He is a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation and the American Bar Foundation. In 2015, he received the Mississippi Bar's Lifetime Achievement Award, a highlight in his career.

Jerry Hafter has dedicated his life to the legal profession. The practice of law has never been limited to his office or the courtroom. He is an outstanding example to lawyers in all stages of their careers. Beyond his profession, Jerry has proven that he was an outstanding citizen and community leader. His career in public service shows that making Mississippi a better place to live for all its citizens was a priority in his life.

Mr. Hafter is survived by his wife, Jocille Hafter and his son, Bryan Hafter.