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Richard C. Rakes, 1927-2017

We are sad to report that Richard C. (“Dick”) Rakes passed away on December 12, 2017 at the age of 90.

Dick was born in Roanoke, Virginia. After moving with his family several times, he landed in Norfolk and graduated from Granby High School in 1944. He served in the U.S. Army Infantry from 1945 to 1947, and was commissioned a First Lieutenant, Judge Advocate General’s Corps in 1951. After graduating from college, Dick attended the University of Richmond Law School.  He served as VP of the Student Bar Association and was elected to the McNeil Law Society.

Having graduated from the University of Richmond Law School in 1951, Dick approached Fred Gentry in Roanoke, who at that time was practicing with an associate named John Locke. In the summer of 1951, Dick began to work for the firm. When Dick was named Partner in 1958, the firm’s name changed to Gentry Locke & Rakes. Dick spent his entire career at Gentry Locke, retiring in 1991 after 40 years in the active practice of law. That year, he was honored as the Roanoke Valley Legal Secretaries Association award of Boss of the Year. Even after retirement, each year Dick made a point to learn the names of new Gentry Locke attorneys and their spouses.

Dick developed a thriving insurance defense practice and gained a reputation as an excellent litigator. He served as president of the Virginia Association of Defense Attorneys and received that organization’s award for dedicated service – the Robert M. Furniss, Jr. Award. Dick was also a committed member of the Kiwanis Club, performing innumerable good deeds through this valuable community organization. With over 40 years of membership in the Kiwanis Club, Dick was a member of its Legion of Honor. He also served as club president, and had a staggering 33 years of perfect attendance at Kiwanis Club meetings. But Dick is perhaps best known at Kiwanis, and to those at the firm who did not work with him, as the man who sold the Kiwanis pancake tickets every year, earning him the affectionate moniker “Pancake Man.” Not surprisingly, he was one of Kiwanis’ top fundraisers.

According to Monica Monday, Managing Partner of Gentry Locke, “It was a pure pleasure to look up from your desk and see Dick waiving those tickets and asking how many you were going to buy that year. And as a gesture of our firm’s admiration and pride for all of Dick’s contributions to the Kiwanis Club, we established an annual scholarship in his name, The Dick Rakes Kiwanis Scholarship. Dick kept close ties to the firm after his retirement and we are all better for that long relationship with him. He will be missed, but his commitment to public service will live on in the annual scholarship in his name.”

Dick Rakes Kiwanis Scholarship award ceremony

Dick was a lifelong and active member of Kiwanis, a founder of the Adult Care Center, and also served the community as a mediator. In recognition of his remarkable career as a citizen-lawyer, he received the Roanoke Bar Association’s Bo Rogers Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

Dick both regularly and recently remarked about his pride in the firm and what it has become. His kindness, generosity, and zeal for service are permanently woven into our firm’s culture. It was a joy to see him in the halls and offices of our firm, always smiling. He will be remembered with immense fondness as someone who never stopped caring for the needs of others. We are blessed to have been in his presence and will always be indebted to him for his leadership, his loyalty, and his thoughtfulness.