Former 89th District Court Judge and United States Congressman Graham Purcell will be remembered at a Memorial Service Monday at 12:30 p.m. in the Wichita County Courthouse at a service open to the public.
Judge Purcell, who passed away on June 11, 2011 in his home at age 92, will be honored in the 30th District Courtroom, at a special meeting of the Wichita County Bar Association.
The legendary Purcell walked through the pages of history on several occasions as he was personally welcomed to Washington D.C. by then Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson after being elected as United States Congressman in a 1961 special election.
He later sat next to President John F. Kennedy on a plane flight to Dallas Love Field the night before the tragic assassination in November of 1963.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but I heard some of the last words he ever spoke,” Purcell once said.
Judge Purcell also rode in the Presidential motorcade through the streets of Dallas the next day when an assassin’s bullets ended JFK’s life.
Purcell along with his wife Nancy were named the 2010 recipients of the Patsy Baggett Award. The honor recognizes those who help Wichita Falls area children in crisis.
Judge Purcell was well-know in Wichita Falls for helping children for six years beginning in 1955 when he was appointed Wichita County 89th District Court Judge.
After his outstanding stint on the bench, Judge Purcell won six elections to the House of Representatives where he served on the Agriculture and Post Office Committees. One of his major accomplishments was to bring the NATO Pilot Training Program to Sheppard Air Force Base during his tenure as Congressman from 1962 until 1973.
He was a founding partner in the successful Washington D.C. law firm of Bishop, Cook, Purcell and Reynolds. The firm eventually grew to more than 100 attorneys. Judge Purcell served in that capacity for 15 years.
Before he was ever a judge or a Congressman, Purcell was a war hero. He received the Army Silver Star which is awarded for gallantry in action during World War II. He served in Italy during some of the fiercest fighting of the war before being honorably discharged in 1946.
Born and raised in Archer City, Texas, Purcell earned his bachelor’s degree in Animal Husbandry from Texas A&M University in 1946. He later graduated from Baylor Law School in 1949 before practicing law in Wichita Falls.
In 1993, a grateful nation honored Judge Purcell by naming the Federal Building in Wichita Falls the Graham B. Purcell, Jr. Post Office and Federal Building.
Judge Purcell was a great friend to law enforcement in Wichita Falls and will always be remembered for his selfless service to the community as well as to the nation.
He truly will be remembered as one of the greatest members of the “greatest generation.”
A devout Christian, he was along with his wife Nancy an active member of First Presbyterian Church in Wichita Falls for many years.
He played a major role in restarting the Congressional Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C.
Todd Davenport, president of the Wichita County Bar Association, will preside over the memorial service Monday.
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