May 22, 2006
Legal Community Mourns the Loss of Judge Edward R. Becker
Funeral services were held Monday for U.S. Court of Appeals Senior Judge Edward R. Becker, who died of cancer on Friday. He was 73.
"Judge Becker was a wise and worldly man with a boundless intellectual curiosity," said Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Alan M. Feldman. "At the same time, he treasured his Philadelphia roots, and never forgot where he came from. Judge Becker was one of a kind, and our legal community is diminished by his passing."
"Ed was a legal giant. He was a brilliant scholar who never lost sight of the human element in each case," Third Circuit Chief Judge Anthony J. Scirica told The Philadelphia Inquirer
. "He was one of the great judges in the history of the federal judiciary. He was beloved by his colleagues for his warmth, his wit and his concern. He knew your families and children, where you went to school... even what parish, synagogue or church you belonged to." Judge Becker was honored by the Bar Association in 1998 when he was presented with the Justice William J. Brennan Jr. Distinguished Jurist Award. The award recognizes a jurist who adheres to the highest ideals of judicial service. The award is presented to any member of the state or federal bench, whether active or retired, who has made a significant, positive impact on the quality or administration of justice in Philadelphia.
Judge Becker lived and died in the house in which he was born, and he rode the El to work. He was a 1950 graduate of Central High School and he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954 and from Yale Law School in 1957. After law school, he became a partner in a law practice with his father and brother-in-law.
Judge Becker was appointed to the federal bench in 1970, when he was just 37. He was appointed to the Third Circuit in 1982 and was its chief judge from 1998 to 2003. He served as senior judge until his death.
He was one of the leaders in the effort to reopen the 500 block of Chestnut Street in front of Independence Hall following its closure after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Judge Becker fought to reopen the street to traffic and to make Independence Mall and the historic district open and accessible.
Judge Becker is survived by his wife, Flora; sons Charles and Jonathan; a daughter, Susan; four grandchildren; and a sister. His son James died in 1969.
Friends may visit at 11 a.m. Monday at Keneseth Israel, Township Line and Old York Roads, Elkins Park. A funeral service will follow at 1 p.m. Burial will be in Shalom Memorial Park, Pine and Byberry Roads, Huntingdon Valley.
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