The Honorable Joseph Louis Boohaker, May 6, 1954- June 6, 2020. Joseph is the fourth child of Louis A. and Helen M. Boohaker, both of whom preceded him in death, along with his sister Adele and his niece Suzan. Joseph is survived by his beloved wife Maggie, with whom he would have celebrated 38 years of marriage on June 26; three children, Rebecca Boohaker, Maria Boohaker Ritchey (Jeremy) and Louis J. Boohaker; two granddaughters, Layla and Olivia Ritchey; four siblings, Lyla E. Marinelli, James L. Boohaker (Jean), Carreme B. Nackashi (Jerry), and Richard L. Boohaker (Tacla); and 26 nieces and nephews. We will each miss Joseph’s brilliance, humor, sense of tradition, appreciation of history, and unfailing integrity. He called it like he saw it, and he saw it all. He is, and will always remain in our hearts, our husband, Papa, Giddo, brother, and Uncle Joe.
Joseph L. Boohaker was a lifelong member of St. Elias Maronite Catholic Church. He held strong beliefs of justice, equality, and faith. He spent his life upholding those beliefs. He received an academic scholarship from the Knights of Columbus to attend the University of Alabama, earned his BS in Accounting, and graduated summa cum laude in 1976. He earned Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama School of Law, finishing 14th in his class, and was admitted to the Alabama Bar Association in 1979.
He had a successful and diverse law practice for 21 years, representing both plaintiffs and defendants. He also had diversity in clients, accepting payment in cows when necessary. The work was primary and the recompense was secondary.
Through his countless hours of community service, Joseph L. Boohaker made an indelible impression on the City of Birmingham, most notably during his tenure on the Leadership Birmingham Board of Directors and through his many officer positions with the East Kiwanis Club. His dedication and leadership to the work of the American Lebanese League where he became the president in the mid 1980’s earned him the League’s Highest Achievement Award in 1996. He was a founding member of the National Alliance of Lebanese Americans and acted as its Policy Chairman for more than 25 years. His policy writings were visionary that earned him the respect of the highest levels in the US Government and Lebanon, and, more importantly to him, afforded him opportunities to interact with high-level officials on matters of international policy and diplomacy on behalf of American Lebanese. Most recently, he served on the board for the not-for-profit In Defense of Christians as the Policy Chairman.
In 2000, Joseph L. Boohaker was elected as a Circuit Court Judge in the Civil Division in Jefferson County, Alabama and received the Young Lawyers Section of the Birmingham Bar Association Judge Drayton Nobles James Award in 2007. He was elected Presiding Judge of the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Alabama in 2015 and received the ABOTA Trial Judge of the Year the following year, 2016. He retired Feb 29, 2020 because his body could no longer keep up with the alacrity of his mind. He would have worked every day until the end if he could have. That’s how passionate he was for the people of Alabama, the people for whom he fought.
His lifetime of service is clearly seen between each of the lines on this page. He has fought for his family, for the members of his church, the members of his faith, the members of the Lebanese community, the Birmingham community, and those who weren’t members of his community. He spent his life fighting for anyone who needed to be fought for. So many of us needed him to fill some void, be it father, lawyer, justice and he filled those gaps in our lives, our society, for as long as he could. The best service we could do in memory of Joseph L. Boohaker is to live our lives in pursuit of faith, justice, and equality and try to fill the gaps as best we can.