Retired Circuit Judge Bobby Ray Aderholt, a Republican trailblazer in North Alabama, passed away peacefully at his home in Haleyville on Tuesday following a brief battle with cancer. He was 85 years old.
Congressman Robert Aderholt’s, R-Alabama, office announced the senior Aderholt’s death.
“It is with great sadness that the office of Congressman Aderholt announces the death of his father, Judge Bobby Ray Aderholt: Congressman Robert Aderholt’s father, Judge Bobby Ray Aderholt, 85, passed away peacefully Tuesday morning at home in Haleyville after a short, but brave battle with cancer. He leaves behind a legacy of public service to the people of Alabama, but in particular to Winston and Marion Counties.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said on social media: “Congressman Aderholt and his family are most certainly in my prayers for the loss of his father, Judge Bobby Ray Aderholt. @Robert_Aderholt, I know you’ll keep the memories of him close. Losing a parent is difficult, but I pray for peace and comfort for you and your family.”
Lieutenant Gov. Will Ainsworth said: “Praying for the Aderholt family this afternoon. Winston County’s Judge Bobby Aderholt (U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt’s father) has died.”
Judge Aderholt was first elected to serve on Alabama’s 25th Judicial Circuit in 1976, when the state was still largely Democratic. The odds were stacked against him, yet he was able to prevail and earned the trust of the people in Winston and Marion Counties. Judge Aderholt held his seat until he retired in 2007.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl said: “This is a great loss, not only for the Republican Party but for the state of Alabama. Judge Aderholt was a man of character and integrity who was a pioneer for the Republican Party in North Alabama. Our thoughts and prayers are with Judge Aderholt’s family and the people of his community who he served with honor.”
“Judge Aderholt leaves behind a legacy as a devoted public servant, a dedicated family man, and a pioneer for the Republican Party in Alabama,” said Senate Pro Tem. Greg Reed, R-Jasper, “The impact that he has had on the state of Alabama will not soon be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family as they remember the life of such an admirable and respected statesman.”
Bobby Aderholt was born on Dec. 6, 1935, to Jesse Clifton Aderholt and Ruby Elliott Aderholt.
He grew up in Winston County, Alabama, and graduated from Haleyville High School in 1954. He pursued his undergraduate degree at Birmingham-Southern College. Thereafter, he attended the Cumberland School of Law, then in Lebanon, Tennessee, and obtained his law degree from the University of Alabama School of Law.
As a young attorney, he joined the faculty at the Cumberland School of Law, which by that time had moved from Lebanon, Tennessee, to Birmingham, Alabama, and is known today as Samford University. It was during this time he authored, along with Professor Sam B. Gilreath, Caruther’s “History of a Lawsuit,’” eighth edition.
In 1958, he married his high school sweetheart, Mary Frances Brown.
In 1962, Judge Aderholt began serving as judge of the Court of Law and Equity in Winston County and served there until 1973. In 1976 he ran for and was elected circuit judge of the Alabama 25th Judicial Circuit as a Republican. The 25th Circuit includes all of Winston and Marion Counties. He retired in 2007 but continued to serve as a specially appointed judge in cases across Alabama.
He served the public for more than 50 years and presided over each case that came before him with integrity, and with impartiality. He is someone who had a brilliant legal mind, but most importantly, he always had compassion for all individuals, regardless of their background, level of income or social standing.
He was a man with a strong faith in Christ, who had a great love for his family and his God. In addition to his responsibilities on the bench, he was a businessman and pastored Fairview Congregational Church in Hackleburg, Alabama, for 47 years.
He is survived by his son, Alabama Congressman Robert Aderholt, his daughter-in-law, Caroline, and two grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.