Baber to receive top honors

Published 12:34 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2017

James “Penny” Baber, of Cumberland, has been named the 2017 recipient of the Tradition of Excellence Award by the Virginia State Bar’s (VSB) General Practice Section.

According to a VSB press release, Baber, who opened his general practice in Cumberland County in 1961, was recognized for embodying “the high tradition of personal and professional excellence and for benefitting the community and enhancing the esteem of general practice attorneys in the state.”

The release cited the award will be presented June 17 during the VSB’s annual meeting in Virginia Beach.

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According to the release, Cumberland County Administrator and County Attorney Vivian Seay Giles nominated Baber for the award.

“Mr. Baber stands as a monument in our community of the true southern gentleman lawyer who has served his community and the (VSB) as a sole practitioner for 56 years,” Giles said in her nomination letter.

“Baber has served as the commonwealth’s attorney and the Cumberland County attorney, and is currently the commissioner of accounts,” VSB officials said. “He is also active in his community, where he has been a member of the Ruritan Club, served as a Boy Scout troop leader and on the board of directors of the Deep Run Hunt Club, and serves as a trustee of the St. James Episcopal Church in Cartersville.”

Baber, who was born in his grandmother’s house in Columbia, has deep roots in the county. In 1915, his grandfather moved from Albemarle to the county that Baber would later serve through public office.

After graduating with 18 others in his class in 1954 from Cumberland High School, Baber attended the present-day University of Richmond. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 1958 and received his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1961.

Speaking about the start of his law practice in Cumberland, Baber had said, “I didn’t (even) have a secretary. I just hung up a shingle and rented some space over in that little building over there, I rented it from the county, actually,” he said. Two years down the road, Baber sought to be the next county’s commonwealth’s attorney.