Biography of Louis Ward Dunn

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Louis Ward Dunn, since 1916 a justice of the Eighth Rhode Island District Court, and also an ex-judge of the Probate Court of Johnston, has gone far in his profession of law and in his work on the bench. He is highly esteemed by members of the Rhode Island bar, as well as by the general citizenry of the State and by a host of friends.

Judge Dunn was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on March 25, 1889, son of John Francis and Mary (O’Donnell) Dunn. His parents lived in Johnston, Rhode Island, where his father is retired from the active endeavors of a busy career. Louis W. Dunn is a member of a family of five children, there being three brothers and a sister. They are: Robert D., of Washington, D. C.; John Francis, of Providence, who has the surname of his father, and who is president of the J. F. Dunn Worsted Company; Reuben S., of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and May, who was married to James E. Dooley, of Johnston.

In 1895, when Louis Ward Dunn was but a small child, his family removed from the Quaker City, where he was born, to Rhode Island, taking up their home in Providence and later in Johnston. In the public schools of both Johnston and Providence, therefore, he received his early education; and, upon leaving high school, he entered Valparaiso University, at Valparaiso, Indiana, completing his courses in the law department and receiving his degree of Bachelor of Laws at graduation, with the class of 1908. He devoted the two subsequent years to the task of gaining practical law office experience, associating himself, for this purpose, with the firm of Vincent, Boss and Barnefield. In 1910 he applied for and gained admission to the Rhode Island bar; and, beginning his practice in Providence, he has since then been eminently successful, winning the confidence of the public and of his professional colleagues, and acquiring a constantly stronger position.

Public life has always been a matter of interest to Judge Dunn, who has had a great deal of influence, in his way, both through the positions that he himself has held and through the power that he has been able to exert by force of argument and persuasion. In 1911, and again in 1912, he was elected judge of the Probate Court of Johnston; but even before this time, in 1910, he had served as coroner. In 1915 he was elected to represent the town of Johnston in the General Assembly of Rhode Island; and he served, while in that body, on house committees, notably those having to do with rules and education, as well as on the joint committees of accounts and claims. In 1916 he was elected to the office that he has held continuously since that year, that of judge of the Eighth District Court of the State of Rhode Island.

In addition to his professional duties, which he has handled with dignity and distinction, Judge Dunn has figured prominently in the work of different organizations and in varied realms of civic life. When the World War drew the United States into its maelstrom, he became a volunteer worker on many Federal and State boards and commissions, seeking always to aid in the bringing of victory to American and allied arms. He is active today, too, in numerous groups, including the St. Thomas Roman Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, the St. Thomas Catholic Club, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, of Providence. He holds memberships also in several other social organizations. His political alignment is with the Republican party, of whose principles he has been a constant supporter. In each of the aspects of Rhode Island life covered by the groups named above, he has proven himself an interested and loyal worker; and his career as a lawyer and judge has been one of distinctive achievement.

Louis W. Dunn married, in 1919 Sylvia C. Cyr, and they have three children: Louis W. Dunn, Jr., Shirley C. Dunn, and Donald J. Dunn.

Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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