Bob Childs Memoriam
Robert “Bob” Fletcher Childs, Jr., a founding member of Wiggins Childs Pantazis Fisher & Goldfarb, passed away on March 27th, 2018. Bob’s absence at the downtown Birmingham firm has been a difficult adjustment for Bob’s office family, as his nearly 40 years of consistent attendance had been an unwavering representation of the firm’s staunch belief in the importance of diligence, dependability, and a commitment not only to the clients and cases represented, but as pillars of persistence to each other.
Bob Childs developed his character at an early age as a high school student in Montgomery, Alabama. His dedication to his role as an Academic All-American was only further illuminated by his talents in seemingly all athletic endeavors, as well as a social butterfly who everyone knew and loved. Bob’s younger sister, Susan, recalls being known only as “Bob’s sister” for many of her formative years – an annoying trademark for a sibling just one year below her well-liked brother. Susan’s dismay was shortsighted though, as she recognized her brother’s special place in his community, “He always had a huge heart. Everyone loved him.” This theme followed Bob throughout high school and well into college, where he expanded upon his academic and athletic competence under legendary Coach Bear Bryant.
After high school, Bob earned a full scholarship to the University of Alabama, where he continued his scholastic success while simultaneously earning accolades under Coach Bear Bryant as a defensive linebacker. In 1966, Bob earned a position as the defensive captain who, according to his teammate, Mike Reilly, was rarely second-guessed due to Bob’s honest, genuine nature and ability to stay a step ahead of Assistant Coach Donahue in the planning of strategies and techniques. “Nobody questioned his moral authority,” recalls Reilly. “Leadership was Bob’s way. He was king captain, a leader, gave straight answers, and had a real desire to win. Coach Bryant respected and loved Bob. He would pull Bob to the sideline to make sure the defense was going to pull off plays and Bob would always reassure him. He was the kind of leader Bryant wanted.” Off the field, Bob pushed for his teammates to take their studies seriously – The University of Alabama, per Coach Bryant, was just that: a university, and Bob bought into this mentality. He managed to find a balance between athletic praises and academic success impressive enough to earn his place in the University of Alabama Law School class of 1972.
Upon graduation, Bob was recruited to what is now Burr & Forman LLP, where he practiced employment discrimination defense in the form of large class actions. During Pettway vs. American Cast Iron Pipe, Bob met Robert L. Wiggins, an attorney on the opposing side. This chance meeting evolved over the next 20 years, as Wiggins and Childs ultimately became partners in 1985, focusing on employment discrimination as new firm Gordon Silberman Wiggins & Childs. Wiggins remembers Bob as “a very good lawyer, very bright, very well-liked by everybody, even the other side’s lawyers. He was never contentious. Bob was genuine and practical. He had empathy for everyone. He had very little ego.” Bob’s professional forte was heavily weighted in preparing for cases – brief-writing and research were of tremendous focus. “Bob was incredibly detail-oriented; he was always heavily prepared for cases,” laughs Wiggins. “And he was great at detail. Great at grammar! People brought briefs to Bob to make clearer. He was a known editor at the office.” Bob’s ability to earn and maintain the respect of his peers also expanded into a mentor role for younger attorneys at his office, as they seemed to flock to him for professional advice without the threat of judgement, nor the intolerance of mistakes.
Bob Childs was a mainstay at the firm, having been actively working on a large Amtrak case for the last decade. His work was only one driving interest in his life, as he maintained an unflinching interest in all University of Alabama sports, as well as the athletics of his five grandchildren. Over the course of his 71 years, Bob Childs’s integrity, character, and unpretentious approachability impacted so many. Always setting the bar high, Bob’s visions were never short-sighted, his empathy all-encompassing, and his work ethic unsurpassable. He will be greatly missed.