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.