Robert Wardlaw Warren ’67, a native of Allendale, S.C., will be awarded the 2017 Thomas Aurelius Stallworth ’55 Alumni award from Presbyterian College for embodying the characteristics of Thomas Aurelius Stallworth’s Christian leadership, strong, bold character, integrity, moral courage, and values.
Warren graduated from Presbyterian College with a BA in English in 1967. Shortly after, he enlisted in the United States Army, serving from 1968 to 1970. He later received an MBA and JD from the University of South Carolina in 1972. After receiving his law degree, he returned home to Allendale, where he practiced law from 1973 to 1980.
A champion of all people, Warren has always carried with him the morals and values instilled in him by his parents. Because of his strong moral courage and values, he took on many Civil Rights cases many times for no pay. His commitment to justice and equality for all sometimes ruffled the feathers of the local political establishment. In 1980, Warren moved to Black Mountain, N.C., to work for Pisgah Legal Services from 1981-1982. He then went into private practice continuing to represent poor people and injured workers for very little or no money at all.
Warren did extensive work with members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and traveled with members of the tribe to the District of Columbia, to search the National Archives for the original tribal constitution. He often worked with Western North Carolinians Ending Institutional Bigotry doing anti-discrimination work. He also worked with the Lumbee and Tuscarora tribes in Roberson County, N.C.
In 2001, the federal government instituted a complicated program to compensate employees and former employees of the Department of Energy who had cancer as a result of radiation exposure at work. Warren began representing eligible workers as soon as he could the following year. After ten years of work, he helped to persuade the government to declare a Special Exposure Cohort for the Savannah River Site, which made hundreds of workers eligible for benefits they had previously been denied.
Because of his lifelong commitment to equality for all, Robert Wardlaw Warren ’67 has been the recipient of multiple awards, including the co-recipient of the ACLU of South Carolina 1979 Civil Libertarian Award, the North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence, the Rev. Wilson Lee Award in 1992, the Dr. Marketta Laurila Free Speech Award, Asheville, N.C., in 1995, and the Asheville-Buncombe United Public Workers Local Union Award in 1999.