Judge Wesley Brown(1907-2012)

WICHITA - U.S. Senior District Judge Wesley Brown has died at age 104.

Brown died Monday evening at Larksfield Place, where he had lived for several years, said Judge Monti Belot.

"There comes a time, and he was just ready," said Belot, who served as a law clerk early in his career before joining Brown on the federal bench in Wichita.

Brown had been appointed by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 and was one of two federal judges to serve until age 104. He continued to hear a full docket well past 100, and then went part time within the past year.

Belot said Brown had been in weaker health and had not come to the courthouse within the past month.

"I hope to be remembered as a good judge, and not just an old judge," Brown told The Eagle last year, sitting in his office.

Brown used to shake his head when he heard people talk about "activist judges" or push for the election of judges. Brown said he took his lifetime appointment seriously, because of its important role in the separation of powers outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

"And I hope the courts can keep their independence and not be subservient to the pressures of other branches of government, or other special interests. It is this separation of powers that is vital to our democracy," Brown said on his 100th birthday. "It's what makes America what it is."

Published in The Wichita Eagle from Jan. 24 to Feb. 28, 2012