William Means 1933-2012: Former Tulsa County district judge dies at 79
BY TIM STANLEY World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 09, 2012
12/09/12 at 2:55 AM
William W. Means, a longtime Tulsa County district judge who later served nearly a decade on the Oklahoma Court of Appeals, died Dec. 3. He was 79.
A private service will be held for the family. Moore's Eastlawn Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Means was elected district judge in 1971.
Known for his low-key, no-nonsense presence and orderly courtroom, he would be re-elected twice and serve as presiding district judge from 1975 to 1981.
In 1982, Means was elected to the Oklahoma Court of Appeals.
He retired from the bench in 1991 and started a private conflict-resolution service.
An adjunct professor of law at the University of Tulsa for many years, Means was the recipient in 2009 of TU Law Alumni's Lifetime Achievement in Law Award.
Means' son, Karl Means, an attorney in the Washington, D.C., area, said what made his father so good on the bench "was that he was always willing to listen, to not come at you with preconceived notions, but to be open-minded and consider different perspectives."
The application went far beyond the courtroom, he added.
With your children, co-workers, whoever - "there's a great deal of value ... in being able to listen, to read, to think, and to come to a fair conclusion. That's what my dad taught me."
Said Tulsa attorney Susan Walker, a former law clerk of Means and longtime family friend, Judge Means was "just a stickler for following the law: You consider all the facts. You don't have to personally agree with the outcome. But we are bound by the law, and that's the most important thing, to uphold it."
A native of Sand Springs and graduate of Sand Springs High School, Means was appointed a public defender in 1961 after completing his law degree at TU.
He later served as assistant district attorney and chief civil assistant to District Attorney Buddy Fallis before beginning his career on the bench in 1967 with an appointment to the Court of Common Pleas.
Among many awards and commendations, he was honored with a community service award from the Tulsa Coalition for Older People in 1979 for his help in implementing the Protective Services Act.
Away from the courthouse, Means was active with the Tulsa-area Boy Scouts and was presented a Kiwanis Youth Service Award for his volunteering.
In retirement, Means was able to give more time to his favorite hobby: restoring classic cars.
He was especially devoted to vintage Fords, and in 2008, his restored 1940 Ford Deluxe convertible won first place at the Early Ford V-8 Club Grand National event in Dearborn, Mich.
Means was preceded in death by a brother, Jim.
Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Mary Ellen Means; one son, Karl Means; a daughter, Karen Willim; two granddaughters; and three brothers, Robert, Thomas and Richard Means.
Memorial donations may go to the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Original Print Headline: On bench and off, judge was a willing listener
Tim Stanley 918-581-8385
William Means is seen in 1992. Means, a former Tulsa County presiding district judge who later served nearly 10 years on the Oklahoma Court of Appeals, died Dec. 3. He was 79. TOM GILBERT / Tulsa World file