Friday, October 20, 2017

Watterson Grady Sidwell (1893-1967)

Portrait from the 1933 Tennessee legislative composite.

    A three-term member of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Watterson Grady Sidwell would also serve as a bank president, Democratic National Convention delegate and judge of the Clay County General Sessions Court. The son of John Epison and Mattie Ann (Bennett) Sidwell, W. Grady Sidwell was born in Lillydale, Tennessee on May 13, 1893. A student in the public schools of Celina, Tennessee, Sidwell would graduate from the Burritt College in 1915 and three years later was admitted to the Tennessee bar. Sources also denote Sidwell as a veteran of World War I, but aside from noting the duration of his enlistment (four months), little else could be found on his military service
   Sidwell continued his legal education at Vanderbilt University, earning his bachelor of laws degree in the class of 1919. Within a short period following his graduation Sidwell had established his law practice in Celina, Tennessee and in 1928 was elected to his first political office, that of trustee for Clay County. He served in that capacity until 1931 and in the following year was elected to the Tennessee General Assembly from the 12th floterial district. During the 1933-35 session, Sidwell sat on the committee on Military Affairs and in 1934 was elected to a second term in the assembly. Sidwell's two terms in the assembly were subsequently acknowledged in the 1938 edition of Prominent Tennesseans, which remarked that
"In this position he made a creditable record for himself and a satisfactory service to his constituents."

   At the conclusion of his second term in 1937 Sidwell returned to Celina, where in the coming years he would serve on the city council as well as city attorney. In 1940 he served as part of the Tennessee delegation to the Democratic National Convention held in Chicago and in 1949 was returned to political life when he was named as judge of the Clay County Court of General Sessions, a post he would hold only a year. Also in 1949 Sidwell began a twelve-year tenure as President of the Bank of Celina, succeeding to that post upon the death of sitting bank president E.P. Fowler.

                                                      From the 1935 Tennessee General Assembly composite.

  Active in several fraternal groups in Clay County, Sidwell was a member of the Celina Lions Club, Shriners, the Canton Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, and the American Legion. In 1953 he was a Clay County delegate to the Tennessee Constitutional Convention and in November 1956 won election to a third term in the state assembly. W. Grady Sidwell died on April 8, 1967, at age 73, succumbing to a heart attack at a Clay County hospital. He was survived by his wife Mary Sue (Maxwell) Sidwell, who, following her death in 1985, was interred alongside her husband at the Fitzgerald Cemetery in Celina.

From the 1957 Tennessee Assembly composite.

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