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 School.

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 early 1970s.

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.