|Birth: ||Aug. 17, 1931|
New Mexico, USA
|Death: ||Jan. 28, 2001|
San Diego County
Earl B. Gilliam was born on August 17, 1931 in Clovis, New Mexico to James Earl and Lula Mae Gooden Gilliam. the family moved first to Oklahoma City, and then when Earl was age 10, moved to San Diego. earl attended Logan and Stockton elementary schools, Memorial Jr. High, and San Diego High School. in 1949 he entered San Diego State College, where he majored in business. Upon graduation from San Diego State he was accepted into Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, where he graduated in 1957.
In 1947 the Gilliam family opened the Louisiana Seafood Market on Imperial Avenue. Earl could be found behind the fish counter after school and weekends thereafter until he left for law school. In fact, he often joked that it was his desire to find a way out of the fish market that motivated him to begin a career in the law.
Earl practiced law, as a deputy district attorney and as a general practitioner, for five years until 1963 when at age 32, he was appointed to the Municipal Court by Governor Edmond G. Brown, becoming the first African American to sit on the San Diego bench. He was elected Presiding Judge in 1971. In 1975, Governor Jerry brown elevated Earl to the San Diego Superior Court bench. In 1980, Earl was appointed by President Jemmy Carter to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, a position he held proudly until his death.
Earl had a deep sense of social responsibility and a commitment to public service. He became an adjunct professor at Western state university School of Law when it opened in 1969 and continued to teach for the next 24 years. In 1995 the school's moot courtroom was formally dedicated in his honor.
Judge Gilliam generously gave time and effort to the San Diego community in countless ways. He served on the boards of numerous civic, professional and private organizations, including his favorite senior housing charity, San Diego Kind Corporation, as well as the Board of Overseers of University of California San Diego, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Burn Institute, Urban League, Boys Club, YMCA, Model Cities, and many others. The community in turn, has repeatedly acknowledge his contributions with awards too numerous to list in detail. In 1982, San Diego's African American Lawyers organization honored him by changing its name to the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association. He also had a San Diego Post Office named after him on Imperial Avenue, "Earl B. Gilliam United States Post Office."
Earl met his wife, Rebecca Prater, in 1978, and she was his date for the 1978 San Diego County Bar Dinner. they remained the best of personal and professional friends for the rest of their careers, and ultimately married in 1993. Tragically, two weeks after their wedding Earl had heart surgery which left him paralyzed and on dialysis for the remainder of his life. The long ordeal, however, never damped his spirit.
Earl is also survived by his beloved son, Derrick James Gilliam of San Francisco, born of Earl's first marriage to Barbara Crawford. Their oldest son, Earl Kenneth Gilliam, died of cancer in 1999. Additional survivors are Earl Kenneth's son Tooran Gilliam, and Rebeca's daughter and granddaughter Claudia and Nandina Menifee, all of San Diego; nephew Frank L. Swain, Jr. of Chicago; cousins Mary Francis Jones and Art Gilliam of Memphis, Blanche Willis and Sammie Caldwell of Waco, Texas, Gloria Shepard of St. Albans, New york, Doyle Walker of Desoto, Texas; and a host of other cousins, relatives and friends throughout the country.
Mount Hope Cemetery
San Diego County
Created by: The Root Digger: Yvette ...
Record added: Oct 17, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 60212283