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Former St. Joseph Superior judge dies

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Judge William T. Means, a former judge on the St. Joseph Superior Court for more than two decades, died Oct. 21 at the age 80.

Judge Means retired from the bench in September 2008. He had fallen ill shortly before his retirement and was in and out of the hospital or rehabilitation centers until his death, said St. Joseph Circuit Judge Michael Gotsch. Gotsch, who appeared numerous times in Judge Means' courtroom as an attorney before joining the bench, said it was a pleasure to try a case in front of Judge Means.

"I feel he was the best judge to try a case in front of because he was very gracious and didn't intervene in your case or interfere in how you wanted to present your case," he said.

St. Joseph Superior Chief Judge Michael Scopelitis agreed, saying Judge Means had an excellent demeanor for a judge. He was always calm and respectful to everyone in his courtroom, no matter what happened in court or if someone misbehaved.

Judge Means earned his J.D. from the University of Michigan in 1953 and was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1955. Prior to joining the bench in the mid 1980s, he was city attorney for Mishawaka, worked as Republican Party chair, was head of the license branch for the Republican Party, and worked in private practice.

Judge Means earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California in 1950. He was active in local theater.

Judge Means was a member of the St. Joseph County and Indiana State Bar associations, as well as Michigan Alumni Club, Mishawaka Republican Party, Presbyterian Players, and First United Methodist Church of Mishawaka.

He is survived by his daughters Margaret Means (William Bergerson) and Rachel Means (Eric Grant); a granddaughter; and sister Marilyn Copeland. He was preceded in death by his wife, Francianne Ivick.

The family will receive friends from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Bubb Funeral Chapel, 3910 N. Main St., Mishawaka. A memorial service will be held at the chapel at 11 a.m. on Friday.

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