On behalf of the State Bar of Georgia, I would like to express condolences to the family, colleagues and many friends of Senior U.S. District Judge William C. O’Kelley of Murrayville on his recent passing.
Judge O’Kelley’s distinguished career in the legal profession and justice system began in 1952 with his admission to the State Bar of Georgia. He was nominated to the federal court bench by President Richard Nixon and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1970. He served as chief judge for the Northern District of Georgia from 1988 to 1994 and assumed senior status in 1996.
Prior to his service as a federal judge, he was engaged in the private practice of law in Atlanta and served as an assistant U.S. attorney of the Northern District of Georgia (1959-61) and special hearing officer for the U.S. Department of Justice (1962-68). In the 1980s, he was appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger to the U.S. Foreign Service Intelligence Court.
A native of Atlanta and longtime resident of Norcross, Judge O’Kelley also served his country as an Air Force veteran with the Judge Advocate Generals’ Corps from 1953 through 1957 and in the Air Force Reserve through 1966. He received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Emory University Law School and the Emory Medal, the university’s highest honor.
Judge William O’Kelley’s exemplary lifetime of service is an inspiration to all Georgia lawyers and judges. We are appreciative of his many contributions to the cause of justice in our state and nation.
Brian D. “Buck” Rogers
President, State Bar of Georgia, Atlanta