Thomas Edward Royals passed away on November 13, 2019 in Ridgeland. He was 81. 

Born at home on March 7, 1938 in Raleigh, Mississippi, he was the son of the late Melvin and Mary Naomi Thornton Royals. He attended Taylorsville High School. He was elected Mr. Taylorsville High School his senior year. In 1958 he began his studies at Millsaps College where he majored in English and was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity. 

After graduating in 1962, he moved to Los Angeles, to teach English in the public schools. He returned to Mississippi and continued teaching and coaching basketball in a Rankin Co. public school before deciding to fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer. He received his Juris Doctorate in 1969 from the University of Mississippi School of Law, beginning his 40-year long legal career. 

While in law school and for a short time after he worked for North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, providing a broad range of legal assistance to people who couldn't otherwise afford it. He then began working at Perry, Phillips, Crockett, Peters & Morrison in Jackson and served as first assistant district attorney Seventh Circuit, Hinds and Yazoo Counties. 

In August of 1974, he opened his own practice doing primarily criminal defense work. In 2002, he formed Royals & Mayfield, PLLC, with his lifelong friend Tommy Mayfield. They practiced together until 2011, during which time he was appointed and retained as defense counsel in numerous high-profile criminal cases in state and federal courts. 

He was a member of the Hinds County, and American Bar Associations, the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and Charles Clark American Inns of Court (Master). 

He was a founding member of the Mississippi Attorneys for Constitutional Justice. He was named on The Best Lawyers in America list for 10 years and received Martindale-Hubbell's highest possible rating in both legal ability and ethical standards. 

He was also involved in New Stage Theatre where he acted in several plays, including "The Runner Stumbles," "Of Mice and Men," and Welty's "The Ponder Heart." He produced Lucinda Williams' first album, "Ramblin'," in Jackson in 1979. He played the guitar in his early days and sang bass in the choirs at Northminster Baptist Church and St. Andrew's Episcopal Church later in life.

He was a dedicated and fervent member of Highlands Mallet Croquet Club. He also became a published author, editing a collection of 12 interviews with his friend, Will Campbell, a Mississippi-born preacher, activist and author best known for his involvement with the civil rights movement. "Conversations with Will D. Campbell" was published in 2018 by the University Press of Mississippi. 

He was married to the late Martin "Marti" Howell Speights of Canton and Rita Leverette Royals of Grenada. 

He is survived by his daughters, Marianne and Kathryn, grandson Andrew Thomas Mitchell, and his sisters Mary Kathryn Atwood and Helen Grace Frith. 

He is predeceased by parents, sisters Patsy Lee Freeman and Ruth Leverta Thompson, and brother Roger Dale Royals. 

A Service of Christian Burial was held Nov. 18, 2019 at St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral. 

Memorials may be made to Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Avenue PO Box 5632 Montgomery, AL 36177, and St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral, PO Box 1366 Jackson, MS 39215.