J. Taylor Rooks, a fixture in the legal and art communities of Baton Rouge for more than 40 years and legal adviser to generations of Baton Rouge families, died at his home in Baton Rouge on May 3 of esophageal cancer. He had been a resident of Highlands since 1988.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Lenora Swope Rooks and Russell Rooks; and brother-in-law Bob (Robert Hill).
He is survived by his sister, Mary (Mrs. Robert Hill) and Bettye (Mrs. Frank Caruzo); brother-in-law Frank Caruzo; nieces, Karen (Mrs. Daniel Hartzler) and Sandy (Mrs. John Wendt); and his companion Ramón (Dr. E. Ramón Arango).
Jimmy was born in Friendship, Tenn., and attended Union College and American University in Washington, D.C., on a special program of study in American government.
He was a Tulane Law School graduate, earning his degree in 1958 with honors, Tulane Law Review and Order of the Coif, international law society. Jimmy became part of the Baton Rouge law community in early 1960.
After a professional association of several years with Allison R. Kolb, he entered into a partnership with Mr. Kolb in 1965, retaining the name Kolb and Rooks after Mr. Kolb's death in 1973. Jimmy was active in supporting the arts, during his career serving on the board of directors and as president of the Baton Rouge Gallery and the LSU Chamber Music Society and on the board of directors at the Shakespeare Festival at Tulane. He also volunteered his services to the Louisiana State Bar Association's Louisiana Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. He served many years in the Baton Rouge Bar Association's Pro Bono Program, providing legal services to the indigent.
He was one of the trustees of the Allison R. Kolb Foundation, a philanthropic trust founded by Jimmy's late law partner to help deserving students get higher education.
The funeral was held May 7. Burial was in Greenoaks Memorial Park.
Honorary pallbearers were Beth Baldridge, Neal and Marie Blanchard, Patricia Burke, Victor and Pamela Chavez, Emile Clark, DeLaune Michel Fried, Paul and Margaret Gainer, Thomas Hughes, Harriet Laurence, Aimee Michel Lawson, Elizabeth Michel, Marjorie "Maggi" Michel, Tom Moore and Diana Armstrong Moore, Joanna Rainey, Dee Strickland, Bill Walls and Lalah Gee Williams. His friends will hold a memorial celebration in the near future.