Charles Lemmond Jr.

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May 30, 2012

Charles D. Lemmond Jr., long-time Pennsylvania State Senator and community leader, died Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in Commonwealth Hospice at St. Luke's Villa, Wilkes-Barre, following a brief illness. He was 83. Born in Hazleton on January 17, 1929, to Charles D. and Ruth Zierdt Lemmond, Charles grew up in Forty Fort and attended Forty Fort schools, graduating as president of his senior class. After a stint in the United States Army of Occupation where he saw service in Italy, Charles attended Harvard with support from the GI Bill and majored in government. He excelled as the principal trumpet player in the Harvard Band and was spotlighted in an article in Collier's Magazine entitled, "Harvard Never Loses at Half-time." He received an A.B. from Harvard in 1952 and then went on to receive an L.L.B. from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Law. Charles served as a law clerk for The Honorable Max Rosenn and was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar, the Luzerne County Bar and many years later, was honored to be admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. Following law school, Charles returned to the Wyoming Valley where he met and married Barbara Northrup. The couple lived briefly in Glen Summit and Forty Fort before moving to Dallas, where they have lived for more than 50 years and raised four children: Charles Lemmond, Austin, Texas; John Lemmond, Virginia Beach, Va.; Judith Lemmond, Dallas; and David Lemmond, New York City, N.Y. During his early years as a lawyer, Charles was a principal in the firm of Silverblatt and Townend, and he served as solicitor for a number of municipal entities, including the Lake-Lehman School District, Dallas Borough and Exeter Township. He was tapped by Luzerne County District Attorney Blythe Evans for the position of First Assistant District Attorney, and in that role he prosecuted and won a number of high profile criminal cases. In 1980, he was appointed by Governor Dick Thornburgh to serve as a judge of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, where he was the Orphans' Court Judge. When Senator Frank O'Connell announced his retirement from the Pennsylvania Senate, Charles was encouraged by Patrick J. Solano, Republican Party strategist, to throw his hat into the ring for the vacant Senate seat. After winning the Republican nomination in a hotly contested race, Charles went on to win the Special Election in a landslide. He was the Senator of the 20th Senatorial District from 1985 until his retirement in November 2006. Often referred to by his colleagues as "The Gentleman of the Senate," Charles chaired the State Government Committee and was Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee. He was a member on the Criminal Justice Commission and the Reapportionment Task Force of the National Conference of State Legislatures, and served as Vice Chair of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency Board of Directors. His experience as a judge served the Commonwealth well when he was named to the Senate Impeachment Trial Committee that weighed the charges against Supreme Court Justice Rolf Larsen. He sponsored many pieces of legislation, with none providing more personal satisfaction than the law requiring hearing screening for newborns. Charles was an active and involved participant in many community organizations. He was a Thirty-Third Degree Mason, a member of the Caldwell Consistory, and served as Potentate of the Nobility of Irem Shriners in 1979. Other community service included being a Life Member of Wyoming Seminary's Board of Trustees and an advisory board member of both the Salvation Army and Penn State University's Wilkes-Barre Campus. He was a Lay Leader of the First United Methodist Church of Wilkes-Barre, and over a period of years served in many leadership roles in the Wyoming Conference of the United Methodist Church. Charles's commitment to his community was acknowledged in the citation for an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters awarded him by Wilkes University in 2000. Then-Wilkes President Dr. Christopher N. Breiseth cited him as "a man of unblemished integrity and broad popularity" who had applied his "judicial temperament to the cause of good government." Further acknowledgement of his good works was provided by Misericordia University in the naming of its campus performing arts center as the Lemmond Theater. In addition to his wife and children, Charles is survived by a brother, George H. Lemmond, Atlanta; daughter-in-law, Tracy Lemmond; son-in-law, Pedro Elizondo; grandchildren, Courtney, Gretchen, Carter and Kendrick Lemmond; cousin, Carl Heastand, Hazleton; and eight nieces and two nephews. Funeral services will be conducted Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 11 a.m. at the Dallas United Methodist Church, 4 Parsonage St., Dallas. The Reverend Robert G. Wood and the Reverend Charles F. Gommer will officiate. Interment will be made in Memorial Shrine Park, Carverton, at the convenience of the family. Friends may call Tuesday, June 5, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Harold C. Snowdon Funeral Home Inc., 140 N. Main St., Shavertown. Memorial donations may be made to the Dallas United Methodist Church, 4 Parsonage St., Dallas, PA 18612, or to Commonwealth Hospice at St. Luke's Villa, Wilkes-Barre, 80 E. Northampton St., Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702.

Published in Times Leader on June 1, 2012
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