Former Missouri Chief Justice Charles B. Blackmar dies after brief illness

22 January 2007

Former Missouri Chief Justice Charles B. Blackmar dies after brief illness

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Charles Blakey Blackmar, senior judge and former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri, died after a brief illness early Saturday, Jan. 20, 2007, in Clearwater, Fla. He was 84.

"We have lost a great judge, scholar, teacher and an enjoyable friend," Chief Justice Michael A. Wolff said. "Judge Blackmar was passionately involved with the advancement of the law and the judiciary for 60 years. We certainly will miss him."

Blackmar took office as a Supreme Court judge Dec. 15, 1982, and was retained in office by voters statewide at the November 1984 general election. He served as chief justice from July 1, 1989, through June 30, 1991. Pursuant to the state constitution's mandatory retirement age for judges, Blackmar retired from the Court April 1, 1992, just a few weeks before his 70th birthday on April 19. He continued to hear cases before the Court as a senior judge through last fall.

Born and raised in Kansas City, Mo., Blackmar earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in 1942 from Princeton University and was named to Phi Beta Kappa. Following graduation, he served four years in the U.S. Army and earned the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge awards for his service in the European Theater during World War II. He was discharged in 1946 at the rank of first lieutenant. Blackmar then earned his law degree in 1948 from the University of Michigan Law School, where he served as associate editor of the Michigan Law Review and was named to the Order of the Coif. He also received an honorary doctorate in law in 1991 from Saint Louis University.

Blackmar practiced law from 1948 to 1977 in Kansas City at the firm now known as Swanson Midgley and also served as a professorial lecturer in law from 1949 to 1957 at what is now the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. He was a professor of law from 1966 to 1982 at Saint Louis University. He also served as a special assistant attorney general for the state of Missouri from 1969 to 1977 and as a professional labor arbitrator throughout the Midwest from 1967 to 1982.

The author and co-author of numerous law books and articles throughout his career – including co-authoring West's Federal Practice Guide Manual and several editions of West's Federal Jury Practice and Instructions – Blackmar was a member of Scribes, the American Society of Legal Writers, and served as its president in 1986. He also was a fellow of the American Bar Association and a member of The Missouri Bar, the American Law Institute and the National Academy of Arbitrators. He was the first chairman of the Fair Public Accommodations Commission of Kansas City, serving from 1963 to 1966, and additionally served on the Kansas City Human Relations Commission from 1964 to 1966. He also was a passionate defender of the independence of the judiciary and a proponent of the Missouri Nonpartisan Court Plan. In 1983, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri awarded Blackmar its Equal Justice Award.

Blackmar's survivors include his second wife, Dr. Jeanne Stephens Lee, whom he married in October 1984; a sister; four children; three stepchildren; eight grandchildren; five stepgrandchildren; one great-grandchild; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Ellen Day Bonnifield, whom he married in July 1943; one son and one granddaughter. He also leaves behind his beloved dog, Sugarplum.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 26, at Country Club Christian Church in Kansas City. Visitation immediately will precede the service. Private interment will be at Mt. Washington Cemetery in Kansas City. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to The Charles Blackmar Fund at Saint Louis University Law School or The Missouri Bar Foundation in Jefferson City, Mo.