WILLIAM P. HOMANS

WILLIAM P. HOMANS, JR.

Homans, William P., Jr. (1921-1997) of Massachusetts. Born in Canton, Norfolk County, Mass. on 18 Mar 1921. Nephew of Henry Parkman, Jr.; cousin of Endicott Peabody. Served in the U.S. Navy during World War II; lawyer; member of Massachusetts state house of representatives, 1963-65. Persuaded Massachusetts' high court to strike down the death penalty. Died at a nursing home in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Ariz., February 7, 1997. Interment at Milton Cemetery, Milton, Mass.
Obituary:
CAMBRIDGE -- William P. Homans Jr. of Cambridge, a renowned civil rights lawyer and former Massachusetts state representative, has died.  Mr. Homans died Friday at the Desert Samaritan Care Center in Phoenix after a long illness. He was 75.  As a defense lawyer Mr. Homans represented the rich and the poor, but he spent most of his time working for those who could not afford a lawyer.  Among his cases, Mr. Homans won a reversal from the state Supreme Judicial Court of the 1975 manslaughter conviction of Dr. Kenneth Edelin during the abortion of a fetus.  He won an acquittal for Pfc. Tyrone Peterson, who was charged with killing his sergeant during the Vietnam War.  After that case, Mr. Homans established a legal aid office in Saigon to provide free civilian counsel to soldiers facing courts-martial.  His clients also included Beacon Hill socialite Suzanne Clift, who was accused in 1962 of shooting her lover.  Mr. Homans was a state representative from 1963 to 1965.  He was born in Boston. His mother was a birth control advocate in the 1930s; an aunt was a civil rights activist, and a cousin, Endicott Peabody, served as governor of Massachusetts.  Mr. Homans was graduated from South Kent School in Connecticut and Harvard College.  He joined Britain's Royal Navy during World War II after the Royal Air Force rejected him because he was too tall, 6-foot-4. He served as a lieutenant in Italy, then transferred to the U.S. Navy in 1943 and served as an officer in the Pacific.  After the war, he went to Harvard Law School and was graduated in 1948.  He was general counsel for the Navy and the Export-Import Bank in Washington for three years, and then came to Boston to practice law.  He was an opponent of the death penalty and worked to have it abolished in Massachusetts.  Last November, the Supreme Judicial Court Historical Society established an endowed fund in Homans' name to perpetuate debate on matters of public interest.  Homans belonged to the Massachusetts and American bar associations, and was a fellow with the American College of Trial Lawyers and the American Bar Foundation.  He also was a member of the Attorney General's Committee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Criminal Procedure and the Voluntary Defenders Committee.  He is survived by his wife and his former wife, two sons, two daughters, a stepson, a stepdaughter, a sister, two brothers and five grandchildren.  A funeral service will be held Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Christ Church in Cambridge. Burial will be in Milton Cemetery in Milton.
Spouse 1: Sophy Melter b. abt 1900 New York
Children:
William Homans b. abt 1917 Massachusetts

Sources:
United States Federal Census
The Political Graveyard

Submitted by Deborah Crowell