Gov. Brownback orders flags lowered in honor of Wichita Judge Wesley Brown

Judge Brown

Gov. Sam Brownback has directed that flags be flown at half-staff Saturday to honor Judge Wesley E. Brown of Wichita, who passed away Jan. 23 at the age of 104.

Judge Brown, still a sitting judge at the time of his death, was the oldest serving federal judge in US history.

After working in private practice and as Reno County Attorney, Brown was appointed to the federal Bankruptcy Court in 1958 by President Dwight Eisenhower.

Four years later, President John F. Kennedy appointed him to the District Court bench, where he served more than 50 years.

Judge Brown was a Kansas native, born in Hutchinson in 1907. He earned his law degree in 1933 at the Kansas City School of Law, now known as the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Serving on the bench past his 100th birthday was not the first time that Judge Brown had been considered aged for his job. During World War II, he joined the Navy at age 37 — unusually old for a new recruit — and quipped in a 2010 American Bar Association profile that he felt like he was “the oldest lieutenant in the Navy.”

In ordering flags flown at half staff, Brownback hailed Judge Brown as “an exemplary American and an exemplary Kansan.

“His tireless work ethic was proof of his dedication to the country and to his duty,” Brownback said in a statement. “Judge Brown is a shining example to all Kansans. He will be sorely missed.”

A celebration of life service honoring Judge Brown will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at College Hill United Methodist Church, 2930 E. First St., Wichita.