Renowned lawyer and humorist was one of Mercer’s ‘most loyal sons’ | Mercer Legends

bob steed sits at a table decorated for a luncheon. he looks up and is waving his hand smiling.
Robert "Bob" Steed. Mercer University photo

Mercer University alumnus and Life Trustee Robert “Bob” Steed was a noted lawyer, author and humorist who dedicated much of his life to serving his alma mater. Here’s how he became a Mercer Legend.

Robert “Bob” Steed

Mercer connection: Mercer University and Mercer Law alumnus; member of the Board of Trustees

Years at Mercer: Steed came to Mercer in 1954, graduating with his undergraduate degree in 1958 and law degree in 1961. From 1972-76, he served on the University’s Board of Trustees, and in 1979, Mercer awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Laws. In addition, from 1979-2014, Steed served six consecutive terms as a member of the Board of Trustees, including chairing the board for several years. He was named a Life Trustee in 2014.

What he did: After graduating from Mercer Law, from 1961-62, Steed served as law clerk to Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carlton Mobley. In 1962, he joined the law firm of King & Spalding, becoming partner in 1967. As a senior partner for the firm’s Public Finance Practice Group, Steed served as bond counsel to the state of Georgia as well as cities, counties and governmental authorities throughout the country. Among his career highlights was arguing a test case before the Georgia Supreme Court that authorized the state to issue general obligation debt.

In addition to his distinguished law career, which spanned half a century, Steed was a noted writer and humorist. At Mercer, he served as editor of The Mercer Cluster student newspaper, where he wrote a popular serial column called “Willard Lives,” which parodied life as a student. He went on to write columns that appeared for many years in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and in papers of the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group. Steed published several books, and his commentaries were occasionally heard on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”

Why he is a legend: Throughout his life, Steed provided extensive leadership to Mercer. In addition to his roles on the University’s Board of Trustees, he was a member of the Walter F. George Foundation and Law School’s Woodruff Trust, chair of the Mercer School of Law Board of Visitors, and president of the Law Alumni Association. He also played a prominent role in helping the Law School acquire its building on Coleman Hill.

Mercer has awarded Steed numerous honors, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, as well as the Outstanding Alumnus Award and Meritorious Service Award from the Law School.

Many of Steed’s books were published by Mercer University Press, and he was a popular master of ceremonies for its Authors’ Luncheon fundraising event. Steed died in 2016 at the age of 79.

Quotable: “Bob Steed was one of Mercer’s most loyal sons. His affinity for the University had no limit, and he served it faithfully for most of his life. Indeed, he was one of our greatest ambassadors.” — President William D. Underwood in 2016

Chelsea Meyer, a senior at Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, contributed to this story.

Mercer Legends is a series that highlights iconic figures who left a lasting impact on the University and its faculty, staff and students, as well as the community.


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