By Elsa Maxey
“My whole office respected Judge Walter McMeans and mourns his passing, and we offer our condolences to his family,” said John Healey, Fort Bend County District Attorney, who knew the judge professionally and personally for about 20 years, most notably when Healey became the DA in 1992.
Judge McMeans, who sat as the only court’s judge was elected in 1986, took office in 1987 and served until 2010. His son, Jeff McMeans, assumed the post after an election in 2010, and currently sits as the presiding judge in that court. He was sworn into the elected office by his father.
“Judge McMeans was a friend when he was on the bench and after his retirement,” Healey told the “Star”. “With each passing year as more and more cases began to be filed, I witnessed the tremendous number of cases he tried, and the fairness as a judge to both sides.”
Healey also said McMeans “cared deeply about people and the cases, he was very careful about work being done properly and held us to a high standard.” Judge McMeans “represented a view of justice that is well appreciated and respected by both defendant and prosecuting attorneys, alike.” Regarding him as “the epitome of fairness” noting that he did not legislate from the bench, Healey said the judge “gave us the opportunity to bring law, read the law, and he based his rulings upon the law, he was a servant of the law to both defendant and prosecuting attorney, and was fair to both sides of the law.”
Although Healey recalls McMeans’ strict manner with litigants, “if you were a rather inexperienced attorney, he liked to help you along with your training,” he said. Healey recalls the judge would tell him it was not “my responsibility to educate your attorneys, but every time he had a trial, that’s what he did and knew he was doing it.”
Healey liked hearing McMeans’ stories related frequently after hours, he said. “We talked a lot of his experiences about the war, law school and about his time as Mayor of Sugar Land, his children, and wife’s endeavors in the Sugar Land Heritage Society and Fort Bend County Historical Commission.” Healey said, “he always had a warm greeting and smile and was interested in relating what was going on in the family.”
A Sugar Land resident for about half of his life, Judge McMeans was on Sugar Land’s city council during two separate terms, the city’s mayor from 1981-87, and on numerous social and civic organizations including the Fort Bend County Fair Association as a life member, board member of the Fort Bend Museum, the Fort Bend Archeological Society, University of Houston Alumni organization, Sugar Creek Rotary Club and numerous others. A life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Judge McMeans served in the U.S. Army as a First Lieutenant and was on active duty overseas in Germany and France for over 2 years.
McMeans is survived by his wife, Jane, three children, Suzanne, Jeff, and Greg, and 5 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are set for Friday at 1 p.m. at Settegast-Kopf on U.S. 59 and Sugar Creek.