Durham Civil Rights attorney William A. "Billy" Marsh Jr. dies

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Renowned Durham Civil Rights attorney William A. "Billy" Marsh, Jr., has died, according to a statement from Congressman G.K. Butterfield. He was 91.

"I am greatly saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend and role model, Billy Marsh," said Butterfield in a statement. "Billy Marsh was a pioneering leader in our community, using his legal training to champion civil rights here and across the state."

Marsh gained fame in 1957 when he served as legal counsel to the "Royal Ice Cream Seven." The seven Durham Civil Rights activists defied a city ordinance denying them service on the "white" side of the ice cream shop.

"Billy was a man of high distinction who dedicated his career to fighting for civil rights," said Butterfield. "He is an inspiration to today's leaders, and I was, and will remain, honored to have shared in friendship with him."

Marsh was born and raised in Durham and graduated from North Carolina Central University and North Carolina Central University School of Law.

He served as general counsel to the Mechanics and Farmers Bank, Mutual Community Savings Bank, and UDI Community Development Corporation. Marsh was also a pioneer in establishing the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers.

The North Carolina Bar Association Hall of Fame recognized his civil rights work, and in 1999, Marsh was inducted into the General Practice Hall of Fame.
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