Washington and Lee University Mourns the Hon. H. Emory Widener 53, Longest-serving Appeals Court Judge

Lexington, VA Friday, September 21, 2007

The Honorable Hiram Emory Widener, Jr., 84, alumnus and adjunct faculty member at the School of Law, died at his home on Wednesday, September 19, 2007, at 11:10 a.m.  He was born in Abingdon, Virginia on April 30, 1923.  He had been the longest-serving active United States Court of Appeals judge in the nation.

Judge Widener, center, returned to the School of Law in February 2007 to hear cases with other judges from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. He is pictured above with Judges Robert B. King and Blane Michael.
Judge Widener attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute from 1940-41 and then received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1944.  His active service in the United States Navy included the Philippines and Okinawa during World War II, and the Persian Gulf during the Korean War.  He was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V.  After retiring from active duty with the U. S. Navy and entering the Naval Reserves, he received an LL.B. degree from Washington and Lee University in 1953.  He was awarded membership in the Order of the Coif, Washington and Lee Law Review, and Phi Alpha Delta.

He was in legal practice in Bristol, Virginia with his father and later David Frackelton from 1953-69.  He served as a U. S. Commissioner for the Western District of Virginia from 1963-66 and was also Chairman of the Republican Party, 9th District of Virginia, during those years.  In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed him as United States District Judge for the Western District of Virginia, and in 1972 appointed him as United States Circuit Judge.  He was also a member of the Virginia Election Laws Study Commission from 1968-69, the American Law Institute, the Virginia State Bar, the Virginia Bar Association, and was a Trustee of Virginia Intermont College.  He was an adjunct teacher at Southern Seminary and Junior College, and the law schools of the University of Texas, Washington and Lee University, and the College of William and Mary. 

Judge Widener is survived by his daughter and her husband, Molly Widener Thompson and Glenn Thompson, of Charlotte, North Carolina, both 2003 graduates of the W&L School of Law; his son, Hiram Emory Widener, III, of Abingdon, Virginia; his brother-in-law, Henry Groseclose, of  Hampstead, North Carolina; his nephew Warren Groseclose and children William, Michael and David, of Richmond, Virginia; and his niece, Ginna Atkinson, her husband Michael, and their son Dalton of Richmond, Virginia.

Funeral services for the Hon. H. Emory Widener, Jr., will be held at Green Spring Presbyterian Church on Sunday, September 23, 2007, at 2:00 p.m.  The family will receive friends at the home immediately following the service.  The family will also receive friends on Saturday, September 22, 2007, from 5:00 p.m. 7:00 p.m. at Farris Funeral Service, Main Street Chapel, in Abingdon, Virginia.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Honorable H. Emory Widener, Jr. Memorial Fund at Washington and Lee University Law School, Lexington, VA  24450 (540-458-8587).

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