JOHN LANHAM / 1924-2007
Judge’s childhood as orphan informed his rulings
John Calhoun Lanham, a state legislator and Circuit Court judge for 20 years, died last Tuesday. He was 82.
"We were in the Legislature together. We passed the bar exam in the same year in 1955. He was the kindest, purest, most amiable and sympathetic person that I have ever really known," said Walter Heen, an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee.
Lanham was born in Summerton, S.C., in 1924 and was orphaned when he was 4. He joined the military after turning 18 and served as an aerial gunner on a B-25 medium bomber in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II. Lanham was also in the 25th Infantry Division during the Korean War.
He then became interested in law and politics and graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1949. He became a judge and attorney in military courts.
In 1958, Lanham was elected as a member of the last Territorial Legislature in Hawaii and later became a state representative and then a senator.
In 1970 the late Gov. John Burns appointed Lanham as a Circuit Court judge.
During Lanham's years as a judge, he acquired a reputation as a "bleeding heart," Heen said.
"It was a trait that he acquired as a child, and for him that trait was good," said Heen.
Lanham's daughter Patrice Lanham said, "They called him the 'Bleeding Heart' and 'Champion of the Underdog.' ... My father was born an orphan. He told me that he would always stand in line to be picked and no one picked him, which is why he was always trying to help the underdog."
Lanham's last service was as the chief of justice of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in 1982.
After retiring, Lanham moved to California with wife Annie and his children.
He is survived by his wife, daughters Patrice Lanham and Catherine Remely, son Robert and grandchildren Tatum and Kyle Remely.
Memorial services will be held at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow at Forest Lawn Memorial in Cathedral City, Calif.
For more information, contact Patrice Lanham at (650) 218-3330.
Condolences are to be sent to 39495 Manorgate Road, Palm Desert, CA 92211.
Donations are suggested to Epworth Children's Home, P.O. Box 50466, Columbia, SC 29250.