Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and a host of legal and elected leaders remember retired Maryland Circuit Court Judge William Missouri as a brilliant legal mind whose legacy of service went far beyond listening to cases and clearing court dockets.
Missouri passed away at his home in Mitchellville, Md. on Nov. 21. A cause of death has not been released. He was 77 years old. He is survived by his wife Delores Bell-Missouri, six children and five grandchildren.
Missouri, who served on the county and then the circuit court bench from Jan. 14, 1988 to Sept. 3, 2010, — nearly three decades — was known for not only his community work, including service at St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Largo, Md. and his Masonic membership at the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, but also for his mentorship.
“He loved working in the community and he was actively involved, but family was just as important to him as working in the community,” his wife Delores told the AFRO.
County officials remembered Missouri as the man he was beyond the bench.
“On behalf of a grateful County, the thoughts and prayers of my fellow Prince Georgians are with the family and friends of Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge William Missouri,” said Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker in a statement. “The impact that this great man had on the law and the many attorneys he mentored and worked with is astounding. Judge Missouri was one of the most revered, committed and civic minded jurists in Prince George’s County and he will be greatly missed.”
County lawyer Arthur Horne said Missouri was known for holding lawyers to a high standard that started with being on time for court. He often arrived in Upper Marlboro around 7 a.m. “He often said to be early is to be on time,” his widow said. Missouri also spent extra time with lawyers after trials were over to offer words of advice and private counsel.
Retired US District Court Judge Alex Williams was one of the first Blacks to work as an assistant in the states attorney’s office. He said Missouri encouraged him to reach out to the community and help people beyond racial lines.
During his tenure as a judge, Missouri was a member on the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council in Prince George’s County from 2004 to 2010; chair of the county’s Compensation and Charter Review Commission from 2005 to 2006; and a member of the county’s Task Force to Improve Child Support Compliance from 2007-08.
“Judge Missouri was always a person who gave far more than he received,” Baker said. “He donated his time and talents to numerous charitable causes outside of the courthouse and government because he truly loved Prince George’s County. It was his role as mentor to many of the county’s best and brightest students, politicians, lawyers, judges and other public servants that will also define his legacy.
Missouri was born in D.C. on Sept. 4, 1940. He went to high school at McKinley Technology in Northeast D.C., but his family moved to South Carolina before graduation. Missouri graduated from Ebenezer High School in Dalzell, S.C. He served in U.S. Air Force in 1958. He attended Prince George’s County Community College and Bowie State College where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science in 1975. He received his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law in 1978.
The viewing is scheduled to be held on Nov. 29 from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. at the Evangel Cathedral Bishop’s Chapel, 13901 Central Avenue in Upper Marlboro, Md. An additional viewing is scheduled for Nov. 30 at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 2020 St. Joseph Drive in Largo from 9-11 a.m. A funeral will follow. Judge Missouri will be buried at Resurrection Cemetery in Clinton, Md.