May/June 2007 issue
In Memoriam: Judge William L. Hungate
Judge William L. Hungate,
retired U.S. District Court
Judge for the Eastern District
of Missouri, died of
complications from surgery on June 22, 2007.
He was 84 years old.
William L. Hungate was born in Benton,
Illinois, in 1922 and grew up in Bowling Green,
Missouri. He received his undergraduate degree
in 1943 from the University of Missouri-
Columbia. From 1943 to 1946 he served in the
U.S. Army as an infantryman in Europe. In 1948
he received his law degree from Harvard Law
He began his legal career in private practice in
Troy, Missouri. From 1951 to 1956 he served as
a prosecuting attorney for Lincoln County. From
1958 to 1964 he served as Special Assistant
State Attorney General.
In 1964 he was elected to the U.S. House of
Representatives as a congressman for the 9th
Congressional District of Missouri. He served
six terms. He was on the House Judiciary
Committee during the Watergate hearings in the
In 1977 returned to Missouri and joined the
Thomas & Mitchell law firm which later
became Thompson Coburn. In 1979 he was
appointed as a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern
District of Missouri. His most noted action on
the bench was his approval of the 1983 consent
decree for the voluntary school-desegregation
plan in St. Louis.
The judge was also well known for his sense of
humor. U.S. District Judge Edward L. Filippine
called him “the Mark Twain of his day.” In his
spare time Judge Hungate enjoyed playing banjo
and piano and listening to jazz.
Judge Hungate retired from judicial service in
1992. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and
their children, William and Katie.