Tylerite Judge Calhoun dies at 83

Published on Monday, 4 August 2014 23:08 - Written by FAITH HARPER fharper@tylerpaper.com

A longtime Tylerite who enforced the letter of the law and had a hand in creating it died Sunday.

The Honorable Charles Galloway Calhoun Jr. died at 83 from health complications.

Over Calhoun’s long legal career, he served as the district attorney for Smith and Wood counties, assistant attorney general for the state of Texas and as legal council to the governor. He served three terms as a Texas state senator, almost 20 years on the bench of the 114st District Court in Tyler and then another 20 years as a state senior judge.

“Judge Calhoun was fine man and outstanding judge,” said 241st District Court Judge Jack Skeen Jr., who worked closely with Calhoun in the 1980s when he was elected Smith County’s District Attorney.

“He was fair, impartial and very courteous to the parties who appeared in his court,” Skeen said. “He knew the law, and I think that he is one of the best judges I have ever seen and without a doubt one of the best men. He lived a full life made a lot of contributions to the justice system — a real asset to this community.”

Aside from helping shape laws during his tenure in Austin, he helped shape case law over the years, Skeen said.

Longtime Tyler attorney Buck Files said the late judge was an impartial judge who was easy to work with.

“I served as first assistant criminal district attorney in Tyler when Judge Calhoun was appointed to the bench,” Files said. “He brought with him a great work ethic and a determination to be absolutely prepared when he took the bench for any case before him.”

Cynthia Kent was elected to the 114st District Court bench after Calhoun retired.

“You always had those huge shoes that you had to fill,” the former Judge said. “I worked really hard to be able to live up to (his) reputation of hard work and dedication to the law.”

Like any judge, Calhoun had a few quirks, Ms. Kent said. She recalled he sat in a regal chair from his days in the Texas Legislature, and had a peculiar way of issuing a ruling, often going back and forth on sides as he explained his ruling.

“When he started to make his ruling, you needed to hear the first thing he said — that was how he was going to rule. … He’d talk himself into it and then back out of it. … He would make clients so nervous.”

He had servant’s heart, Ms. Kent said.

“He really was a phenomenal person and a true public servant his entire life,” she said.

Longtime Tyler lawyer Tom Brown said Calhoun had great humanity and faith in the Lord.

“I had the privilege as a young lawyer to go before him a few times,” Brown said. “He followed the law well and gave respect for all people. He was kind, a good soul and a good man. We will miss him.”

Calhoun leaves behind his wife of 60 years, Virginia Sue Easley Calhoun, and their four children and families.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Marvin United Methodist Church. The family asked that donations be made to PATH in his honor.