Portrait Unveiling Ceremony Held for the Honorable Carol McCoy

November 20, 2018

The Honorable Carol L. McCoy stepped down from her role as a chancellor on the 20th Judicial District Chancery Court in 2016. Those visiting or working at the Metropolitan Courthouse will still get to see her face for years to come, though, thanks to a new portrait of Chancellor McCoy that was recently unveiled at the courthouse.

The photographic portrait was presented recently at a ceremony in Chancellor McCoy’s old Chancery Court Part II courtroom. At the ceremony, friends, family members, former colleagues, and other prominent figures from the Tennessee legal community gathered and shared reminiscences about Chancellor McCoy’s 20-year career on the bench. Chancellor McCoy also offered her own thoughts on the occasion.

“Those who know and love her will appreciate how well the portrait captures the energy, tenacity, and spirit that causes friends and colleagues to describe her as a force of nature,” Chancellor Claudia C. Bonnyman said at the ceremony shortly after the portrait’s unveiling.

Chancellor Bonnyman worked alongside Chancellor McCoy in the 20th Judicial District for many years. She said that the portrait was an ideal way to honor Chancellor McCoy and the values that she embodied during her judicial career.

“The public and I and her other colleagues who are here today have benefitted for over two decades from her loyalty, energy, and trustworthiness,” Chancellor Bonnyman said. “This portrait is a fitting and lasting tribute to Carol’s service and reputation as a jurist. In the years to come she’ll be here in spirit, her portrait a reminder that all who enter these courts deserve representation where at all possible and a fair and impartial resolution of their disputes.”

Chancellor McCoy thanked colleagues and former staff members for their encouragement and friendship through the years.

“One of my favorite sayings is that since you cannot call people without wings angels you call them friends,” she said. “And each of you has been my friend like a breath of wind between my wings who supported me whenever the burden was too heavy or too difficult or too stressful. Thank you all for coming.”

Chancellor McCoy also had kind words for the members of the Tennessee Judicial Conference. Chancellor McCoy was the first female president of the TJC.

“They are not only my colleagues, they are some of my best friends, and when I served as president of the [TJC] I got to know them a lot better,” she said.

Chancellor McCoy reserved special thanks to Chancellor William E. Young for the role he played in making the portrait a reality. Chancellor Young spearheaded the effort to collect donations and to commission an artist to create the portrait.

“I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Chancellor McCoy said.

She concluded her remarks by reflecting on what the day’s events would have meant for her parents, whom she called “two of the most wonderful people I ever knew.” Her father was a direct descendant of Randolph McCoy, of the Hatfields and McCoys fame. He grew up in the hills of Kentucky, becoming a pilot in the United States Air Force in World War II.

“They would be thrilled, so thrilled to know that their daughter’s portrait is going to hang in the courthouse in Nashville, especially when you think of their origins and their backgrounds and the trials and tribulations they went through,” she said. “I wish they were here today.”

The portrait of Carol McCoy was made by Gary Layda, who was the official photographer of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville for nearly 30 years.

Chancellor McCoy graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School in 1973. She worked for what was then Legal Services of Nashville for a couple of years upon graduation, before moving into private practice for the next 20 years. In 1996, she first won election to the 20th Judicial District Chancery Court. She was subsequently re-elected three times before retiring in 2016.

Chancellor Carol McCoy Speaks During Her Portrait Unveiling Ceremony at the Metropolitan Courthouse