From Kristin Gutting (Charleston):
Professor Virginia (“Ginny”) Darden Meeks
(June 2, 1969 – February 23, 2017)
After a hard-fought battle with triple negative breast cancer, on February 23, 2017, the Charleston School of Law, the legal profession, and to be honest, the world, lost a truly beautiful soul, Professor Virginia (“Ginny”) Darden Meeks [obituary]. I (along with many) lost a great friend and colleague that constantly inspired me to be a better person and whose memory will continue to inspire me. I met Ginny soon after moving to Charleston when I began teaching at the Charleston School of Law. Ginny graduated from the University of North Carolina and was a die-hard Tar Heel fan. She earned her law degree at the University of South Carolina and her Masters of Law in Estate Planning at the University of Miami. She was an estate planning attorney at a boutique tax firm in Charleston. She was well-respected within the community and was always helping others. She provided pro bono legal services to individuals in need and several area nonprofit organizations, including the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation and Lowcountry Lab Rescue. Ginny also served as a committee member for several professional and civic organizations, including the Grace Church Cathedral, the Charleston County Bar Association, and the South Carolina Bar Association. Within in five minutes of speaking to her, I knew I was in the presence of someone truly special.
Soon after, I was lucky enough to recruit her to join the law school faculty to teach Wills, Trusts, and Estates, Federal Income Taxation, Estate Planning, and Estate and Gift Taxation. I knew she would be a great professor, as she was passionate about the law and had a quality about her that put people at ease, all the while inspiring and commanding greatness. During her time at the law school through her presence inside and outside of the classroom, she set the bar for what we as professors should aspire to be. She cared for her students and their well-being. She challenged her students to learn the law; to embrace the law; and to believe in the law. Most importantly, Ginny led by example. She was always the first to volunteer, whether it be with judging a moot court team, helping with a student organization charity fundraiser, running in a 5K for a student organization, mentoring a student, or being there for a student during a time of need. She consistently attended student organization events and mentored her students. But, her role in her students’ lives did not end at graduation. Rather, Ginny continued to follow their careers and to assist our alumni to help them in any way she could.
However, Ginny acted quietly, not acting to enhance her tenure application or to receive the praise of her colleagues, but acting out of the pureness of her heart. Thus, I am (as are many) just learning of the full extent of her generosity and kindness. Since her passing, I am continuing to learn the true impact she had on our school and our community. One graduate wrote on Facebook, “Professor Meeks was always there for me during the early years of my law career. Although we barely knew each other, she was always the first to suggest that we meet for lunch or coffee to talk about how things were going. I aspire to have her kindness and generosity.” Another wrote, she was “my professor, my mentor, and my friend. She was always the strongest, funniest, bravest, and kindest person in the room.” A member of the community wrote about her son being diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy and Ginny without hesitation offering legal help with documents for her son’s medical care and refusing to take payment. It is comments like these that you will hear from her students, her colleagues, and anyone that was ever blessed to cross paths with Ginny – she was kind, brave, funny, selfless.
Despite being diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2015, Ginny continued to be just that – kind, brave, funny, and selfless. She continued to teach, to be the first to volunteer to help a colleague, a student, a friend, or even a stranger. She truly loved the law and those around her and wanted to make the world a better place. And she did just that. Ginny taught the entire Fall 2016 academic semester, including a new course because a fellow professor and dear friend of hers took a leave of absence to pursue a dream. Ginny did not hesitate to help. Unfortunately, as the cancer grew, she was unable to teach this Spring semester. However, in between treatments, you would still see her on campus to meet students or to attend a faculty meeting. She was still reaching out to students and encouraging them. In fact, she was still encouraging me. Just a few weeks ago, she texted and emailed me about the school’s tax moot court team. Specifically, Ginny volunteered to help prepare the team and cheered us on throughout the entire process. Additionally, while fighting breast cancer and going through multiple treatments, she continued to help other cancer warriors by running a volunteer estate planning clinic for patients of the Roper Cancer Center. She tackled cancer head-on with humor, wit, grace, and her continued mission to help others. I am honored to have known her and to have called her a friend.
Ginny’s continued courage, grace, and selflessness as her battle with cancer ended was a testament to the life she lived. Ginny’s senior high school yearbook quote could not be more fitting --“Lightheartedness in the face of adversity is the sign of true courage.” Ginny had true courage and was an inspiration to me and everyone’s life she touched. Ginny’s spirit will live on through her two beautiful and amazing children, her family, and her friends. I, myself, will continue to strive to be a better person for having known her. Her message was simple – help others. Thus, I challenge all my tax (and non-tax) colleagues to participate in at least one student event, volunteer in the community, reach out to alumni and see how they are doing, and/or mentor a student. Make a difference. Be inspired by Ginny’s selflessness. Give back – help others.