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Our History: Featured Alumni/ae: Tavenner, Frank, Jr., 1927

Over the decades our graduates have developed distinguished careers as justices, members of Congress, ambassadors, educators, business people, and community leaders in many fields. This site features some of those late graduates.

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Frank Tavenner, Jr.

Chief of Counsel, Prosecution for the International Military Tribunal for the Far East

Frank S. Tavenner, Jr. was born in Woodstock, Virginia in 1895. He received his elementary education in the public schools of Shenandoah County and took an A.B. degree at Roanoke College in 1916, and an A.M. at Princeton University in 1917. After graduating from college he served in the Pioneer Infantry of the U.S. Army during World War I, with the rank of First Lieutenant, and he saw extended combat duty in France including in the Argonne Forest, and later served with the Army as a captain in the occupation of Germany. He earned an LL.B at the University of Virginia in 1927, after which he began the practice of law in his home town. In 1933, Tavenner was appointed assistant U.S. attorney in the Western District of Virginia and in 1940, became U.S. attorney for that district. Following World War II was assigned by the Department of the Army to be Counsel and later Acting Chief of Counsel, Prosecution section for the International Military Tribunal for the Far East from late 1945 to the end of the trial in 1948.

Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, commended Tavenner's service in Japan: "He demonstrated both a profound learning of the law and marked administrative ability under the peculiar difficulties which alone arise before a tribunal of international composition. In this he has rendered distinguished service to our country and to the Allied cause." From 1949 until the mid-1950s Tavenner was Chief of Counsel for the House Committee on Un-American Activities, a position he held until his death in 1964. In 1951 Roanoke College conferred upon him an honorary LL.D. in recognition of his public service. Tavenner was buried in Woodstock.

Personal Papers and Official Records from the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, Special Collections, Arthur J. Morris Library, University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, Va.

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