In 1943, two veteran Tampa lawyers formed a partnership that would make the name Fowler White an important part of Florida's legal profession. Cody Fowler and Morris White, both born in 1892, came to Tampa from different routes, yet had much in common. Our history reflects their accomplishments as well as the accomplishments of those who followed.
A relative of the famous scout and showman, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, Cody Fowler was born in Arlington, Tennessee, and grew up in Texas and Oklahoma. Mr. Fowler earned his law degree in 1913 from the School of Law of Cumberland University in Tennessee.
He passed the Tennessee bar exam in 1913 and the Florida Bar in 1914. When the United States declared war on Germany in 1917, Mr. Fowler volunteered for officers' training school and soon rose to the rank of captain, serving as an artillery officer. After the war, Mr. Fowler's mother, Mrs. Maud Fowler, became one of the founders of Temple Terrace, Florida. Fowler Avenue in Tampa was named after Mrs. Fowler. In 1924, Cody Fowler joined the Tampa law firm of Macfarlane, Pettingill, Macfarlane & Fowler.
Morris White was born near Yazoo City, Mississippi, and earned his college and law degrees from the University of Mississippi. Mr. White began his law practice in Mississippi in 1915 and also answered the call of duty in 1917, serving in Europe as an infantry officer.
After the war, Mr. White returned to Greenville, Mississippi to practice law until 1925 when he too felt the lure of a booming Florida. Mr. White joined the firm of Shackleford & Brown, and later practiced with Mabry, Reeves, Carlton & White.
As members of important Tampa law firms, both Mr. Fowler and Mr. White practiced successfully through the Great Depression, and in the early 1940s, each established his own firm. In 1943, Mr. Fowler and Mr. White, who knew each other from community service activities, formed the partnership of Fowler and White.
Mr. White's and Mr. Fowler's talents and personalities complemented each other. Cody Fowler was an outgoing and charismatic leader. Morris White was a studious, reserved Southern gentleman.
In 1950, Cody Fowler became president of the American Bar Association. Mr. Fowler chaired the Tampa Bi-Racial Committee in the late 1950's and 1960's and received the National Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews for distinguished service in the field of human relations. He was also a principal figure in launching First Federal Savings & Loan Association and was active in community and political matters throughout his career. Mr. Fowler retired shortly before passing away in 1978.
Morris White was a 20-year trustee of The University of Tampa, and received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University in 1966. Mr. White also set the tone for participation in community service and pro bono efforts. He believed that there was more to practicing law then handling cases, and that community service allowed the firm to meet and establish relationships with future clients while staying in tune with community developments. Mr. White remained active in the firm and continued to practice law until 1988 when he passed away at the age of 95.
This tradition of achievement and community service has been upheld by the lawyers who came to join Cody Fowler and Morris White as named partners, as well as the others who have helped build the firm.
This family photograph taken about 1895 shows Cody Fowler as a youngster. He's with his grandfather at left, Joseph L. Cody, a Civil War veteran, his mother, Maud, Cody Fowler, and his father, Orin Scott Fowler.