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William Arthur Munnell

1920 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
William Arthur Munnell Obituary
Judge William (Bill) Arthur Munnell

October 9, 1920

March 1, 2013

It is with great sadness the Munnell family has to announce that Judge William A. Munnell passed away on Friday, March 1, 2013 at his home in Reno, Nevada at the age of 92 years. This short piece only touches on the highlights of his 92 years. A proper presentation of his life would require a book having hundreds of pages. Persons of his character and achievement, and of his great heart simply cannot be replaced.

He was born in Marshalltown, Iowa on October 9, 1920, then moved at an early age to Los Angeles with the rest of his family. Upon graduating from high school he was accepted to the University of Southern California, and married his high school sweetheart, Charlotte Ann Hayduk. They were companions and life partners for 69 years.

His university education was interrupted by World War II, during which he served with the Army Counter-Intelligence Corps. The incredible stories he told about this period in his life could fill a book itself.

Upon his return he finished his education, passing the California state bar in 1949. After settling into the practice of law, he ran for and was elected to the California State Assembly where he served with distinction from 1951 until 1961. He won and maintained the confidence of voters in Assembly District 51 as proved by being re-elected 5 times. Alex Vassar, author of "The Legislators of California", says this about his terms as legislator: " The man was, in my book, a legend. He was one of those people who brought distinction to the legislature and who the current generation of legislators should hope to be more like."

Bill Munnell left the legislature upon his appointment to the California Superior Court in 1961. He served as Justice Los Angeles Superior Court until 1981: then as Settlement Judge Los Angeles Superior Court until 1985. For 6 years of this time he was a member of the Superior Court's Executive Committee. Judge Munnell was a force for good in California's justice system, creating significant improvements in court procedures. He created numerous innovations which expedited administrative civil and criminal procedures now in use throughout the Golden State. He assisted in formalizing jury instructions, both civil and criminal; these are now in formal journals. He assisted in establishing mandatory settlement conferences prior to trial in all civil cases; these are now the law in California.

For semi-retirement, the Judge and his wife relocated to Reno in 1985. Not understanding the meaning of "retirement", Judge Munnell worked with some of the Nevada Judiciary to implement some of the judicial reforms he had helped to bring about in California, and accepted an appointment as a Nevada Supreme Court Settlement Judge.

Through all of his life Judge Munnell also worked as a businessman, in fields that ranged from banking to real estate. From his early days in a poor family of 12, who at times picked fruit all through California, to owning a number of farms, he balanced success with a common touch and an open heart. He was a wonderful example of the fact that with a willingness to work one can accomplish whatever a person sets their mind and heart to.

Judge Munnell was preceded in death by his wife, Charlotte Ann in 2009, and his son, William John in 1993.

Bill is survived by his daughters Betty Jean Munnell and Mary Louise Coffey, his son David Brian Munnell (Diane), their children: Bill, Adam, Lily, Stephanie Kirwin (Everett) and their sons Noah and Logan, Bettina Jardine (Andrew) their daughter Giada, and by his beloved brother Richard Munnell: and by friends beyond count.

A Celebration of Judge Munnell's life will be announced at a later date.

We miss you so much Dad! You taught us so much and gave us all the love that anyone could wish. We'll always remember you and hold you in our hearts.

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Published in Reno Gazette-Journal on Mar. 24, 2013
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