CHARLESTON -– The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia issued a statement mourning the death of Senior Status Judge Charles Berkley Lilly.
Lilly died at the Bowers Hospice House on Saturday, Jan. 10, his 86th birthday.
"Judge Lilly was a fine circuit judge with an outstanding reputation for fairness and professionalism," Chief Justice Brent Benjamin said in the statement. "He had a commitment to making sure justice was served timely. And he was a storyteller in the traditional style of a West Virginia storyteller."
After his retirement from the Circuit Court bench, Lilly continued his service as a senior status judge.
"He was very helpful to the court system whenever we needed a judge to fill in for a circuit judge or a family court judge," Benjamin said. "His work ethic and ability were unparalleled, and we will all miss him."
Lilly was a longtime Beckley resident. He was born at Oxley (now Beaver)on Jan. 10, 1923, the youngest of five children. He graduated from Nuttall High School in Lookout in 1940, where he was a member of the National Honor Society and captain of the football and basketball teams.
Lilly received a Bachelor of Arts degree from West Virginia Institute of Technology, where he played baseball. Although offered a minor league baseball contract, he instead chose to attend the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond. He received his law degree in January 1947. He returned to Beckley and began his long legal career as an associate at Ashworth and Sanders.
Following 22-months as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, beginning in March 1950, he returned to the practice of law in Beckley, and served as a police judge under three mayors.
Lilly was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates in 1960 and re-elected in 1962. He served for four years as the Prosecuting Attorney of Raleigh County, then was elected Circuit Judge for the Tenth Judicial Circuit (Raleigh County) in 1968, 1976 and 1984.
Following his retirement in 1988, Lilly entered private practice, with Gorman, Sheatsley and Hutchison; he was also certified as a mediator and arbiter, work which he enjoyed well into his eighties.
He was active in the Raleigh County Bar Association, the West Virginia State Bar, and the West Virginia Judicial Association, holding all offices in both the Raleigh County Bar and the Judicial Association, and serving on the Board of Governors for the State Bar. He served as the president of the West Virginia University College of Law Alumni Association, the first non-alumnus so elected. He also was active in church and civic affairs.
He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Anna Lee Bowyer Lilly; two daughters; four granddaughters; and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held on Jan. 16 in Beckley.