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William Brigham


1928 - 2015 Obituary Condolences Gallery
William Brigham Obituary
William H. Brigham, 86, passed away Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, in Fort Worth. Service: 11 a.m. Saturday at Burleson Church of Christ. Interment: Burleson Memorial Park. Visitation: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Burleson Church of Christ. Bill was born Aug. 19, 1928, in Murphy to Thomas and Eunice Akers Brigham. Ramrod-straight, proud, uncommonly courteous to others, a man of few words, loving husband, faithful father and grandfather (he and his wife raised her grandson), remarkable judge, steadfast friend -- these are a few phrases that describe a truly extraordinary man. Bill was born and raised in the small farming and ranching Collin County town of Murphy, where he grew up with the values that made possible his unique life. He served in the U.S. Navy, completed his law degree at Baylor University in 1954 and then joined the FBI, where he served as a special agent in Indianapolis and New York City until 1958. After his adventure in the FBI, he moved to Waco. While becoming a first-rate courtroom attorney, he found time to raise Santa Gertrudis cattle, his beloved "red cows." Upon leaving Waco, he had a very unusual and successful midlife career as a small business entrepreneur -- buying and selling men's neckties. He would buy "seconds" or rejected ties with small defects from wholesalers and then personally stock convenience stores, gas stations, etc., with his merchandise. For this purpose, he purchased and refurbished two used, full-sized Greyhound buses, which he personally drove. He was transitioning out of this career when he joined the Criminal Division of the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office in 1976. He soon became a favorite assistant DA of the Arlington police (because he personally filed their criminal cases) and also a favorite of Arlington's local merchants (because he personally handled and collected their hot checks). Thereafter, he served as a trial attorney in the Civil Division of the DA's Office. As a Civil Division attorney, he represented the Tarrant County Commissioners Court and other county officials. It was his excellent reputation with the Commissioners Court of that day that led them to appoint Bill to a vacancy in the judgeship of County Court at Law No. 1 in 1981. And thus began the career for which he is best publicly known: Judge Brigham. Quickly establishing new records for case dispositions, he was re-elected. After Bill's judicial reputation was established, the governor appointed him as judge of the 233rd District Court in Tarrant County, where he served from 1989 until 1995 when he was again appointed by the governor -- and then re-elected -- to the Fort Worth Court of Appeals, which serves 12 counties. Bill retired in 1999 as a justice of the Fort Worth Court of Appeals. The entire legal community was saddened upon his retirement, but need not have been, for he then embarked upon another 15-year judicial career as a visiting judge in a 16-county area. It is an understatement to say that he was regularly chosen to hear some of the knottiest, most difficult cases in which other judges had been recused or disqualified. Bill heard his last case as a retired, visiting judge in September 2014, when he notified the presiding judge that due to health problems, he should not be given any further cases. Since his early days in the FBI, Bill was a master potter and artist. His pottery pieces were sought-after throughout the Southwest. It was not unusual for his friends traveling in New Mexico to encounter his unique and beautiful pieces for display and sale. Bill was a man of faith and a longtime faithful member of Burleson Church of Christ. The family would like to extend a special thank-you to Valerie Murray for her dedication in our time of need. Survivors: His wife, Trudy, who was the love of his life; children, Mary Sue Hayward and husband, Chris, of Dallas, Shari Lynn Wilfong and husband, John, of Waco, John Brigham and wife, Jan, of China Spring, Tabatha Kornak of Fort Worth, Aaron Wiggins and wife, Jamie, of Grand Prairie and Will Brigham of Burleson; grandchildren, Brooke Sanders and husband, Scot, Brian Brigham, Rachel Wilfong, Meghan and Mathew Wilfong, Michael Kornak, Kaycee Wiggins and Kayden Wiggins; great-grandchildren, Madelyn and Amelia Sanders, and Hayden Wilfong; and extended family and friends.
Published in Star-Telegram on Feb. 5, 2015
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