Judge Wendell Mayer loses battle with cancer
A grieving friend of Judge Wendell Wilkie Mayer cherishes a letter the jurist wrote him recently as cancer took its toll on his
Despite his life-threatening illness, defense attorney Duge Butler said, Mayer took the time to write about their decades of
The longtime Marion Superior Court judge believed at the time that he had only about four weeks to live. Butler told Mayer he was too young to die.
In the letter dated J uly 21, the 58-year-old Mayer wrote: "You were right the other night when you indicated I was a little
young to be passing on. ... But life doesn't always treat things equally or fairly. I do not fear my passing and I'm only sorry for those that are left behind who feel that they must grieve."
Grieving was widespread Tuesday, the day after Mayer's death from bone and brain cancer. Longtime friends, judges and others in the legal profession recalled his dedication and love of life. "One word that describes Wendell is compassion," said Butler, who met Mayer when both were young attorneys nearly three decades ago. "He tried to understand people's problems," whether on the bench or in his personal life, Butler said.
Mayer was appointed by Gov. Evan Bayh in 1989 to a Republican vacancy in the Marion County court system. At the time, Mayer had been judge of the Pike Township Small Claims Court for 13 years. Mayer stepped down from his Superior Court bench in J uly to battle his cancer f ull time. He reflected at that time that he'd "always tried to be considered fair, just, compassionate and knowledgeable" about what was before him in court.
Butler remembers representing defendants in Mayer's criminal court, calling him "a very fair-minded judge," an observation
echoed by many familiar with his courtroom style. Among them is Deputy Prosecutor Susan Boatright, who handled
prosecutions in his court. She described him as "a superb and wonderf ul man."
"He was very conscientious about not just the necessity to enforce the law he had a clear vision about the realities of life."
Linda Gregory, a bailiff in Mayer's courtroom, said Mayer had a dry sense of humor and was wonderf ul to work for. He ran the court smoothly, she said, so that everything got done. "He'll be missed." Mayer's widow, Margaret "Micki" Brown Mayer, said Tuesday that among the many cards and letters of hope and encouragement he had received since his cancer was diagnosed early this year were those from defendants who had appeared in judgment in his court. "He loved being a judge with a passion," she said, adding that Mayer also had a passion for helping others that led to their giving refuge in their home to some children and ad ults in need of a helping hand during the years. "He was trying to give them an opportunity for a better life," she said.
Ed Treacy of Treacy-Boyle Advocacy Group had been a friend of Mayer's since their schooling at Cathedral High School in the late 1950s. Treacy called Mayer "one of the most liked individuals I've ever come across."
Mayer, he said, "loved his family, loved being a judge, loved playing golf and loved being at the lake." Mayer's family has a
retreat home along Lake Maxinkuckee at Culver in northern Indiana, where Micki Mayer said her husband had taught at least 60 children how to water-ski.
Mayer requested that his funeral procession to the cemetery pass the Brickyard Crossing Golf Course at Speedway, where he spent a lot of his free time, and by the City-County Building, where he spent his workdays administering justice. His request will be honored after his funeral on Friday.
Mayer was a graduate of Xavier University and the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis.
Early in his law career, he was a Marion County deputy prosecutor, then a public defender. After being appointed to the
criminal court bench, Mayer was involved in some court system innovations, including the first victim-impact program and Superior Court consolidated staffing.
In 1995, he was one of the first two judges to preside over a new unified Superior Court system he helped create. Mayer's co-presiding judge over the system was Judge Steven R. Eichholtz, who now presides over a civil court. "I had deep respect for his ability to bring people together," Eichholtz said Tuesday as he remembered the diffic ulties they faced. "He really took to heart trying to unify the courts and make the court system better. He really saw the big picture."
Survivors, besides Mayer's widow, include: children Adam Andrew and Benjamin Benedict Mayer, George "Chip" Schilling and Theresa Reagan Mayer brothers George and August "Gus" Mayer sister Judy Mayer Carter and three
Indianapolis Star, The (IN)
Date: October 6, 1999
Author: WILLIAM J. BOOHER; STAFF WRITER
Edition: CITY FINAL