Oldest serving federal judge dies at 99 in Calif.

Senior U.S. District Judge Robert J. Kelleher, the oldest

serving federal judge in the nation and once an important figure in

U.S. tennis, has died at the age of 99 in his Los Angeles home.

Announcement of Kelleher’s death Wednesday came from Chief Judge

Audrey B. Collins of the Central District of California who called

him ”a great judge and a dear friend.”

”Judge Kelleher contributed to the life and history of the

court and continued to handle cases well into his 90s,” she


Among key cases he presided over was the late 1970s espionage

trial of Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee. The case became

the basis for a book and movie, ”The Falcon and the Snowman.” The

defendants, childhood pals from good homes, were convicted of

conspiring to sell classified secrets to the Soviet Union.

Kelleher, born in New York City, was a graduate of Williams

College and Harvard Law School. He was appointed to the federal

bench by President Richard M. Nixon in 1970.

Kelleher was a former tennis champion who captained the

triumphant 1963 U.S. Davis Cup team. He and his late wife, Gracyn

Wheeler Kelleher, won the mixed doubles championship in 1947. She

died in 1980.

He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in

2000 and received his Hall of Fame ring just a year ago on July 3,

2011. As a leader of national and international tennis

organizations he helped usher tennis into the modern era.

Kelleher is survived by a son, R. Jeffrey Kelleher, daughter,

Karen Kathleen Kelleher and three grandchildren.