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Judge Bobby Aderholt, longtime statesman and father of U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, passes away at 85

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt’s (R-Haleyville) father, Judge Bobby Ray Aderholt, passed away peacefully Tuesday morning at his Haleyville home at age 85.

Judge Aderholt died after a brief battle with cancer. The statesman leaves behind a legacy of public service to the people of Alabama, particularly to Winston and Marion Counties. 

Born on December 6, 1935, to Jesse Clifton Aderholt and Ruby Elliott Aderholt, Judge Aderholt grew up in Winston County, Alabama, and graduated from Haleyville High School in 1954.

He completed his undergraduate degree at Birmingham-Southern College. Thereafter, he attended the Cumberland School of Law 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 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.

He married his high school sweetheart in 1958, Mary Frances Brown. They had one son, Robert Aderholt, who is married to the former Caroline McDonald and two grandchildren, Mary Elliott and Robert Hayes Aderholt.

From 1962 to 1973, Judge Aderholt served as judge of the Court of Law and Equity in Winston County. He was elected circuit judge of the Alabama 25th Judicial Circuit in 1976 as a Republican when the state was politically dominated by the Democratic Party. 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.

The congressman’s office said the elder Aderholt 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.

Alabama Republican Party chairman John Wahl issued a statement memorializing Aderholt and recognizing his service to the state.

“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,” said Wahl.

Alabama State Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper) offered his heartfelt sentiments to the Aderholt family.

“Judge Aderholt leaves behind a legacy as a devoted public servant, a dedicated family man, and a pioneer for the Republican Party in Alabama. 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,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) also issued a statement mourning the loss of Judge Aderholt.

“Heather and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Judge Bobby Ray Aderholt, a family man loved and respected throughout Alabama. We pray that the Lord will pour out his comfort on Bobby’s wife, Mary Frances, as well as Robert, Caroline, and their family during this difficult time,” Moore stated.
Moore noted a scripture from the Book of Psalms which reads, “’The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ – Psalm 34:18”

Judge Aderholt was a devout Christian, who had a great love for his family and God.

Alongside being a longtime judge, he was a businessman and a 47-year pastor at Fairview Congregational Church in Hackleburg, Alabama.

The announcement concludes by stating that Judge Bobby Ray Aderholt will be missed by so many, but he leaves such a rich and enduring legacy for his family and everyone who knew him.

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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