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Walter Stone was born in Chicago on July 12, 1944 to nurse Lavinia Stone who died two days after his birth. Later he moved with his family to Ketucky. As a young man he attended Tennessee State University and earned an AB from Fisk University in Nashville before entering the Marines during the Vietnam War. He became a combat veteran (1967-69) and earned the Purple Heart.
After military service Stone earned a Juris Doctor degree from Cleveland’s Case Western University in 1972 and then came to Providence to work at Rhode Island Legal Services. That assignment set the stage for a fifty-year trailblazing career as a legal advocate for minorities and the underprivileged.
Stone moved quickly onward and upward serving as an assistant attorney general and a trial attorney for the Office of the Public Defender. Then he founded the Providence firm of Stone, Clifton and Clifton, joining two other Black attorneys on the rise. He later became a partner in the large Providence firm of Adler Pollock and Sheehan PC.
Stone successfully defended clients in high-profile cases of national importance, participated in precedent-setting litigation, and distinguished himself by extensive public service.
Judge Stone was actively involved in local and national efforts to foster diversity in the legal community. He was as a longtime legal counsel to the International Boxing Federation. He also served as vice chairman of the Rhode Island Racing and Athletic Commission, which is charged with the oversight of the Rhode Island gaming industry.
As a longtime Democratic Party political activist, Walter was elected a Carter delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1976. As an early supporter of U.S. Senator Barack Obama, he was elected as a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. Having also attended the 1963 March on Washington where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Stone often reflected on these momentous occasions.
Judge Stone served numerous philanthropic, educational, health, legal and cultural organizations. He was former chairman of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, chairman of the prestigious Rhode Island Foundation, and vice chairman of the Heritage Harbor Museum Board.
From 1997 until his judicial appointment in December 2010, Judge Stone was chairman of the Board of Rhode Island Legal Services where he began his career as staff attorney in 1972. In addition to serving on the Roger Williams University Board of Trustees, he was a member of numerous boards of directors, including the Heritage Harbor Foundation.
Roger Williams Law School and Rhode Island College conferred on him the Honorary degree of Doctor of Law. Judge Stone served on three state judicial selection panels and received numerous awards and citations during his eventful career including the Rhode Island Bar Association’s 2005 “Pro Bono Publico Award,” which recognizes the outstanding efforts of attorneys who have provided equal access to justice to the indigent through the Volunteer Lawyer Programs.
Judge Stone died on September 22, 2017 at the age of seventy-three and was buried in Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery. He is survived by son Hunter Stone–Gardner of New York. He was a father of the late Morgan Stone.