LEES SUMMIT - The Honorable Elmo B. Hunter, 88, died Dec. 27, 2003, at John Knox Village in Lee's Summit.
Born Oct. 23, 1915, in St. Louis, son of the late David Riley and Della Bolton Hunter, he enrolled at age 16 at the University of Missouri-Columbia and received an AB degree in 1936, graduating at the top of his class and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1938, he graduated No. 1 in his class from the University of Missouri School of Law and received his LL.B. Hunter was editor of the Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif and was also selected as a Rhodes Scholar. While attending the University of Missouri, he served as president of Kappa Alpha fraternity for two years. He subsequently attended the University of Michigan Law School where he was a Cooke Fellow, graduating No. 1 in the Class of 1941 when he received his LL.M. degree.
In 1955, Hunter received the Outstanding Alumni Service Award from the University of Missouri. He was presented the Citation of Merit Award in 1996, the highest award bestowed on a person by the University of Missouri School of Law.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army the day Pearl Harbor was attacked and served in Army military intelligence. Following the war, Hunter worked for the Honorable Kimbrough Stone of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. He left to serve as senior assistant city counselor for the City of Kansas City and followed that term by becoming a special assistant U.S. attorney, where he prosecuted war fraud cases. Hunter later became one of the four founding partners of the Sebree, Shook, Hardy & Hunter law firm, which today is known as Shook, Hardy & Bacon.
After leaving private practice of law, he served 14 years on the bench, first as a state court judge in Missouri and then as a judge for the Missouri Court of Appeals. He sat by special appointment on the Missouri Supreme Court.
In 1965, he was appointed to the federal bench by President Lyndon B. Johnson. At the time of his appointment, Hunter became the youngest federal judge in the United States. In addition to his service as a U.S. District Court judge in Kansas City, he sat by special appointment on many U.S. District Courts and Court of Appeals panels throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
While serving as a federal judge, Hunter was appointed by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger to the Judicial Conference of the United States and chaired the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Court Administration. He also served on the U.S. Judicial Conference Subcommittee on Judicial Improvements and on the U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on Long Range Planning.
A member of the American Judicature Society, Hunter was the only member in its history to serve as both chairman and president. In 1991, the Elmo B. Hunter Citizens Center for Judicial Selection was formed to further the American Judicature Society's historic interest in judicial selection issues. Throughout his career, he was an advocate for judicial merit selection and public education concerning the federal and state judicial system of the United States. In 2000, he was awarded the American Judicature Society's Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the work of the Society and the nation in promoting the effective administration of justice.
For his extraordinary leadership in the Federal Judiciary, Hunter received the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award in recognition of his lifelong devotion to public service and the administration of justice.
He attended Jefferson City High School and supported the Jefferson City Jays. He was captain and quarterback of the school's state championship football team. He was a starting pitcher for the University of Missouri Tigers baseball team.
Among his many civic involvements, Hunter served as a police commissioner on the Kansas City Police Board, was a trustee for the University of Missouri and member of the Missouri Academy of Squires. Also president of the Missouri Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, he was a member and chairman of the College of the Ozarks Board of Trustees. He also served on numerous other boards and committees throughout his life. He was a charter member and served numerous terms as an elder at Ward Parkway Presbyterian Church in Kansas City.
His first wife, Jane Ann Williams Hunter, died in 1949. He married Shirley Arnold Hunter who survives of the home.
Other survivors include: one daughter and son-in-law, Nancy Ann and Ray Hunt; and five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be conducted at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Central Presbyterian Church in Kansas City.
Memorial contributions may be sent to:
the Ward Parkway Presbyterian Church 7406 Ward Parkway Kansas City, MO 64141
John Knox Village Foundation 400 N.W. Murray Road Lees Summit, MO 64063