Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Harry H. Lugg loved the law, the Navy and Yale, and to each in turn he gave the fullest measure of his energies and devotion. He would understand the traditional anticlimactic position of his alma mater as stated but in no other way would he tolerate any downgrading of that institution.
Judge Lugg was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in 1961. Not long thereafter came the onset of the progressive malady which on March 23, 1965, ended his career at the age of fifty-two. He was born in Derby, Connecticut, on February 22, 1913, where he attended grammar and high school. His parents, Harry G. and Viola Hager Lugg, to whom he was deeply devoted, were of modest circumstances, requiring his undergraduate and law school expenses at Yale to be supplemented by his own labors. Nevertheless, he was graduated from Yale College in 1934 cum laude, and he also found the time to participate in the Thomas Swan Barristers' Union in Yale Law School, from which he was graduated in 1937.
The lure of New York practice was felt by him no less than by so many of his contemporaries. After being admitted to practice in Connecticut in 1937, he left the Connecticut scene and for the following two years labored in the field of New York corporate law but was not enamored of the experience.
He was admitted to the New York bar in 1939 only shortly before ho returned to Connecticut to join the late Donald C. Fisk in the latter's office in Rockville. It did not take Harry Lugg long to appreciate that he had found his niche. He liked being a "country lawyer", he liked Rockville, which was perhaps not too different from his native Derby, and the community liked him.
Three years later this phase of the young lawyer's career was ended abruptly by World War II. Commissioned as an ensign in the Navy in 1942, Harry Lugg saw active duty in the Pacific theater, serving in the New Guinea campaign, in the assaults on Lingayean and Okinawa and in the liberation of the Philippines.
At the war's end he returned to Rockville to a new partnership of Fisk and Lugg and plunged into community affairs. He was elected to the General Assembly from Vernon in 1946, and he took his seat in the House of Representatives in January, 1947, next to a vivacious and gracious freshman legislator from New Haven, Elizabeth B. Gillie, the daughter of an illustrious Navy family. They were married less than a year later on December 6, 1947, at New Haven.
Harry Lugg had a seemingly insatiable capacity for work. In addition to a thriving law practice, he was at the same time counsel for the town of Vernon, corporation counsel for the city of Rockville, prosecuting attorney of the Rockville City Court, and active in Republican party affairs, being a delegate to the national convention in 1948, as well as continuing his interest in the Navy as a member of the naval reserve, in which he later held the rank of lieutenant commander. He was a former president of the Tolland County Bar Association and also a member of the Connecticut and American Bar Associations. He was a member of the legislative committee of the Connecticut Bar Association and later its chairman, a member of its court reorganization committee and chairman of its committee on uniform laws. He was admitted to the United States District Court for Connecticut and for the Southern District of New York. He was also admitted to the Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals and to the United States Supreme Court. In 1951 he was appointed commissioner of the National Conference on Uniform State Laws and in 1952, a vice-chairman of its legislative committee.
The above recitation of bar and court affiliations as well as related activities is remarkable not only for its length but also because it was crowded into a period of approximately six years dating from his return to Rockville after the war.
He found time during the same period to serve as a member of the board of trustees of the Rockville Public Library, of which he was later president and on the Connecticut Veterans Advisory Commission, and he held memberships in the Yale Club of Hartford, the Hartford Club, the University Club of Hartford, the Officers' Club of Hartford, the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of Rockville. He was master of ceremonies at countless civic dinners and functions and was always ready to assist in community projects. When the town of Vernon needed a chairman for its 150th anniversary celebration, quite naturally it turned to Harry Lugg.
In 1953, he was appointed director of the Legislative Council of the state of Connecticut and proceeded at once with characteristic vigor to raise its standards as a research arm of the legislative branch of the state. One of his greatest sources of satisfaction in this position came from giving law students and young lawyers new at the bar an opportunity to work with the council, thereby affording them a first-hand knowledge of how legislative decisions are made. Harry Lugg succeeded Robert A. Wall, now a judge of the Superior Court, as Legislative Commissioner in 1958 and completed the monumental task of revising the General Statutes which resulted in the blue-bound set of eleven volumes. He continued his avid interest in uniform laws, serving as Connecticut chairman of the Commission on Uniform Laws in the United States and as a member of the executive committee of the National Conference on Uniform State Laws. This activity and interest were reflected in the adoption by Connecticut of the Uniform Commercial Code and a host of other uniform measures.
Harry Lugg continued to serve as Legislative Commissioner of the state until he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in 1961. Judge Lugg was a product of Connecticut, and he left his mark on the institutions of the state to which he gave his services. He understood the fundamentals which make a system of government work, and he understood the legislative and judicial processes. Had he lived, his future advancement in the court system could have been readily charted. Those who were privy to his expressed ambitions knew that he looked forward to a long judicial career, and there was none who doubted his attainment of that goal.
Harry Lugg had a magnificent way with people. Although his intellect towered above most, he had the facility of being able to meet everyone at his own level. When conversing with friends on an obscure legal theory or a nearly forgotten point of military strategy, he could surprise his listeners with a pun, and the laughter which followed filled the room with merriment.
During the last year or so of his life, after the fatal malady had left its crippling effects upon him, he continued to attend to his duties on the court. His wife, who survives him, shared the burdens of the final months and offered her quiet encouragement for him to do what he felt he must. Only about a month before his death did he seek the disability retirement which undoubtedly he could have had months before. Of such a caliber was his personal courage and devotion to duty.
Judge Lugg's professional career and service on the bench ended at an age when many another judicial career begins. Yet, in his relatively short life he achieved a full lifetime of service, almost as though he knew what fate held. Ability and service burned bright before the light went out. The afterglow remains.