Local Obituaries

Former Franklin Circuit Judge Henry Meigs II dies at 93

Henry Meigs II
helped found the Kentucky Air National Guard
Henry Meigs II helped found the Kentucky Air National Guard

Former Franklin County Circuit Judge Henry Meigs II, who presided over numerous cases with statewide implications during 23 years on the bench in Frankfort, has died.

Judge Meigs, who lived in Louisville, died Friday night at the Episcopal Church Home there. He was 93.

A native of New York, he attended private schools there and went on to earn a law degree from the University of Kentucky in 1949.

He practiced law in Frankfort from 1949 until 1960, when then-Gov. Bert Combs selected him to be the first circuit judge of the newly created 48th District.

Because the court was based in Frankfort, Judge Meigs immediately was called on to handle cases testing the constitutionality of many pieces of state legislation and issues ranging from Christian schools to the Ten Commandments and the separation of powers in state government.

A second judgeship for the 48th District was created in 1974, and Squire Williams Jr. joined Judge Meigs on the bench. When the two retired in 1983, it marked the closing of "an important chapter in the history of the Kentucky judiciary," the Herald-Leader reported.

After leaving the bench, Judge Meigs moved to Louisville, where he practiced law until retiring in 2000.

Judge Meigs served as fighter pilot with the Army Air Corps in the Pacific during World War II, shooting down 13 Japanese planes. He received the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1946, he helped found the Kentucky Air National Guard.

He also was involved in many civic endeavors, including serving on the boards of Centre College, for which he was named trustee emeritus in 1993, and the Mental Health Association of Kentucky and Filson Historical Society; chairing the boards of the Kentucky Bar Center and Frazier Rehabilitation Center; and helping found Louisville's Wellspring House, a transitional home for people with schizophrenia.

In 1944, he married Sara Lesley Willis, daughter of Kentucky Gov. Simeon Willis. She was the first, and so far only, daughter of a governor to be married in the Governor's Mansion in Frankfort.

In addition to his wife, Judge Meigs is survived by two sons, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday at Calvary Episcopal Church in Louisville. Burial will be at 2 p.m. Friday at Frankfort Cemetery. Pearson's Funeral Home, Louisville, is in charge of arrangements