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Judge William J. Birney Jr.


1931 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Judge William J. Birney Jr. Obituary
March 29, 1931 - February 7, 2016 Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, William J. Birney, Jr., passed away peacefully on February 7, 2016, in Pasadena, California, with his wife of 48 years, Barbara (Jodi), at his side. Born in Torrington, Connecticut, to Pasqualina and William J. Birney, Bill forged lifelong friendships in town and enjoyed summers at nearby Highland Lake. A robust athlete and state baseball champion, in 1947 Bill was invited to try out with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Instead, he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY, in 1952. He served the US Army in the Marshall Islands as a newscaster and disc jockey for the Armed Forces Radio before teaching broadcasting courses at Fort Slocum, NY. Bill joined his brother, Tom, in Los Angeles in 1956, and earned his law degree from Southwestern Law School in 1960. He became a Los Angeles deputy city attorney in 1961, before joining the County Counsel's office the following year. In 1968, Bill joined Vons Grocery Company as general counsel and senior vice president where he served for 20 years. In 1988, Gov. George Deukmejian appointed Bill to the Los Angeles Superior Court, and he served the next 23 years as a trial judge at the Norwalk courthouse, with "the best group of Judges in Los Angeles County," he often said. Bill retired from the bench in August 2011, at the age 80. His love for the law was infectious to many, but his "greatest legal accomplishment," he told the Los Angeles Daily Journal in 2002, was his two sons, William J. Birney III, who practices transactional real estate law in Los Angeles, and Mark A. Birney, a senior deputy with the Orange County District Attorney. While it was difficult for Bill to leave daily legal practice, he delighted in his role as a quiet confidant and trusted advisor to the many who sought his advice, whether on matters legal, personal or obscure. When not presiding in court, Bill traveled the world with Jodi. An avid reader, lover of classical music, fine food and wine, Bill was also a perennial student of all things Italian. Bill is survived by his wife, Jodi, sons, Bill and Mark, daughters-in-law, Susan and Jenna, grandchildren, Will, Lucy and Jack, and his two younger brothers, Dr. Thomas H. Birney and Robert J. Birney. A funeral Mass will be held at St. Andrew Catholic Church, 311 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, California, on Wednesday, February 17, at 12:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Italian American Lawyers Association (www.iala.info).
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Feb. 12 to Feb. 13, 2016
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