Nelson County District Judge Robert "Bob" Heaton, president of the Kentucky District Judges Association, died Monday at Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown.
The Kentucky Standard reported that Judge Heaton, 65, of Bardstown, collapsed during the 6:30 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Church on Monday after an apparent heart attack. Prior to his collapse, he had finished a reading before the congregation.
Judge Heaton was elected Nelson District Court judge in 1998. Before that, he had been an attorney in private practice and served for 19 years as Bardstown's city attorney.
He was a member of the Judicial Review Board and several civic organizations and boards. He was elected to a two-year term as president of the district judges association last fall.
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Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said in a statement that he was saddened by Judge Heaton's passing.
"I will miss his wisdom, guidance and affable personality," Minton said. "He provided strong leadership in and outside Nelson County as a district judge and as president of the Kentucky District Judges Association. We looked to him for his vast experience, his knowledge of the court system and his ability to work with people."
Judge Heaton was a graduate of St. Louis University and the University of Kentucky Law School and was a veteran of the U.S. Army National Guard.
He is survived by his wife, Lee, a son and a daughter.
Funeral Mass will be conducted at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Basilica of St. Joseph Proto-Cathedral in Bardstown. Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 9 to 10:15 a.m. Thursday at Barlow Funeral Home.