Senior U.S. District Judge William Steger passed
away last night following an extended illness. Judge Steger, who was 85, handled more than 15,000 cases in 35 years on the federal bench in Tyler.
Judge Steger began his career of government service as a fighter pilot during and shortly after World War II. He volunteered to fly Spitfires with the Royal Air Force during the war, as well as piloting P-47 Thunderbolts with the Army Air Corps, and flying some of the first jet fighters shortly after the war. After obtaining his law degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Judge Steger moved to Tyler, where he was instrumental in the growth of the Republican Party of Texas, running for governor in 1960, and for Congress in 1962. He served as state party chairman from 1969-1970. Judge Steger was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas in 1953 by President Eisenhower, and served for six years. He was appointed to the federal bench in 1970 by President Nixon. Judge Steger took senior status in 1987, but continued to handle a full docket. As local practitioners will attest, Judge Steger was the model for many of the Eastern District's current judges, most of whom broke in trying cases before him. Judge Steger's clerks recently hosted a 35th anniversary celebration of his career, and raised substantial sums for a scholarship in his name at Baylor Law School.
The memorial service will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7, 2006 at the Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler. There will be a private burial service at 2:00 p.m at Rosehill Cemetery prior to the memorial service. Family visitation will be from 5:00 to 7:00 on Tuesday, June 6, 2006 at Burks, Walker, Tippitt Funeral Home in Tyler.