Longtime attorney Rabb Emison dies

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Retired Vincennes attorney Ewing Rabb Emison Jr., 85, president of the Indiana State Bar Association from 1986 to 1987, died this morning.

Family members called the ISBA this afternoon and not many details were yet known this afternoon by the association or the funeral home that is handling the arrangements.

Emison graduated from what is now the Indiana University Maurer School of Law – Bloomington in 1950, and began practicing with his father, Ewing Emison that year. His entire career was with the firm now known as Emison Doolittle Kolb & Roellgen in Vincennes.

He was known for his work promoting opportunities in the legal profession for minorities. In 2003, he was recognized by the American Bar Association's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession with the Spirit of Excellence Award. The ISBA’s Rabb Emison Award – named for him – “recognizes an individual and an organization that have demonstrated a commitment to promote diversity and/or equality in the legal profession and in the membership of the Indiana State Bar Association,” according to the application.

Emison was interviewed by Evansville attorney Wesley Bowers for part of an ISBA oral history project. That transcript was made available to the ISBA and the Indiana Historical Society, where members of the public can view it and other oral history interview transcripts.

Bowers’ interview topics involving Emison included his three stints in the Navy – 1942, 1952, and 1962 – and about his father and grandfather being attorneys even though they didn't go to law school.

Emison also was known for more than 50 columns he had written for “Res Gestae” during and after his time as ISBA president. In his interview with Bowers, Emison said his columns were not so much about the law but about the behavior of attorneys who practice it. The columns were recently compiled into a book that he self-published and that the ISBA would help distribute.

Visitation is from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday and the funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday. More details are available by contacting the Goodwin Family Funeral Home in Vincennes at (812) 882-5900 or

More about Emison will be in Thursday’s IL daily.


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