Randolph Warner Church Jr.

Remembering my uncle.

Remembering my uncle.

My father's sister's husband, my Uncle Ranny, passed away earlier this year. Even though I never spent much time with him, when I did get to visit him, he was always kind and nice to talk to.

When Ranny Church told me that his uncle was Alonzo Church of the Church-Turing thesis and the lambda calculus, I though he was joking about the fact that I was studying computer science and that he happened to share a last name with one of the fathers of theoretical computer science. But in fact, he wasn't joking. My uncle's uncle was the Alonzo Church (1903-1995), son of Samuel Robbins Church and Mildred Hannah Parker Church, Ranny's grandparents. I should take people at their word more often.

Randolph Warner Church Jr. (1934-11-06 – 2020-03-24)


Randolph Warner Church Jr. "Ranny," age 85, died March 24, 2020 at Westminster Canterbury of the Blue Ridge in Charlottesville after a long struggle with Parkinson's Disease. Born in Richmond, Virginia on November 6, 1934, he was the oldest son of the late Randolph Warner Church Sr. and the late Elizabeth Lewis Gochnauer Church. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Richmond in 1953 where he played on the state championship tennis team. He was also active in the Boy Scouts, earning the rank of Eagle Scout. In 1957 he received a B.A. with honors in political science from the University of Virginia. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, the Raven Society and T.I.L.K.A. He lettered in tennis and in 1957 was the University's lightweight intramural boxing champion. He was Sports Editor of the Cavalier Daily, Editor of the Virginia Spectator, and Managing Editor of the Virginia Law Weekly. In 1960 he received an LL.B. From the University of Virginia and joined the Fairfax firm, McCandlish, Lillard, Marsh & Van Dyck, in which he became a partner in 1963. He served as Managing Partner from 1972 until 1983. In 1984 he became a partner in the Richmond law firm Hunton & Williams and with four other lawyers opened its Northern Virginia office where he served as Managing Partner until his retirement in 1999. Ranny was active in civic affairs, serving on the Board of Visitors of George Mason University from 1982-1990 and as its Rector from 1983-86. He was a member of the board of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and its executive committee and served as its general counsel. He was on the boards of the Symphony's foundation, Virginia FREE, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Foundation. From 1994-2000 he was a member of the Board of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, serving as its Vice President. In 1999 he brought together several interests to create "Fall for the Book," a major Virginia book festival, now in its 21st year. He was its first president, and remained on the board until 2018. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Parkinson's Foundation of the Metropolitan D.C. Area and was treasurer of that organization from 2012 to 2014. He served on the board of George Mason Bankshares, Inc. and its subsidiaries, George Mason Bank and George Mason Mortgage Company. In 1985 his social fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon gave him an award as an outstanding alumnus. He was also a member of the Society of the Cincinnati. Ranny's publications include Appellate Civil Litigation (Charlottesville, 1984), Randolph Warner Church (1907-1984) A Sketch, Pembroke Gochnauer (1841-1919): A Southern Soldier's Story, This Our Life: A View of America (1863-1924), and Travels With Ran: On the Road with Ranny Church (1956-2016). Ranny will be remembered as a Renaissance man: intelligent, knowledgeable, literate, athletic, and social. He is survived by his devoted wife of nearly 50 years, Lucy Canary Church. Together they worked in many political and cultural activities, particularly in support of the arts and George Mason University where they endowed two scholarships. They shared a love of college basketball, football and travel, visiting every continent and more than 110 countries. Additional survivors include their daughter, Leslie Pennell (Mark) of Cincinnati OH, three grandchildren, Ranny's two brothers, John Armistead Church (Phyllis) of Princeton Junction NJ, and Marshall Robbins Church (Priscilla Hoobler) of Philomath OR, and a sister, Mary Armistead Church Kent (Joe) of Richmond. A memorial celebration of Ranny's life will be held at a later date, and his ashes will be placed in the Columbarium at the University of Virginia Cemetery. A memorial celebration of Ranny's life will be held at a later date, and his ashes will be placed in the Columbarium at the University of Virginia Cemetery. (Published in The Washington Post from Apr. 19 to Apr. 21, 2020.)

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