By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
GREENVILLE – U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper Jr. died about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday after a heart attack in Greenville.
Chief Judge Michael P. Mills in Oxford confirmed the death and expressed his shock and sadness at the news.
Pepper died at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson where he was taken for treatment.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete.
He is survived by his wife, Ginger, and their son, Will III, of Cleveland.
“He was a good friend, a wonderful person,” Mills said, with sadness in his voice. “His loss will be felt all over Mississippi.”
Pepper, a Belzoni native, was nominated to the federal court in 1999 by President Bill Clinton.
He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Mississippi.
Donna Barnes of Tupelo, a judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, said Pepper’s “service to the bench, the bar and the public was exemplary.”
Former U.S. Attorney Jim Greenlee, now in private practice in Oxford, said the news of his death “is terrible.”
“We will miss Allen Pepper.”
Defense attorney Christi R. McCoy of Oxford said she was “heartbroken.”
Mills said he and the other three judges will divide Pepper’s case load with special priority to the criminal cases.
Pepper can be replaced only by a presidential nomination and U.S. Senate approval.