Kansas City, MO – Judge Cordell Meeks, Jr. died suddenly at his home this week. He was 63. Meeks, a 26-year veteran of the Wyandotte County District Court, was respected by his colleagues and friends not only as a prodigious member of the bench, but also as a generous contributor of time and talent to many civic causes. With us to talk about the legacy of Cordell Meeks is Nick Tomasic, District Attorney for Wyandotte County for 32 years.
Judge Meeks touched the lives of many others outside his judicial career. We spoke to several of them this week. Among them, Juan Rangel. Rangel was until recently the executive partner of Harmony-NCCJ, a local human relations organization that grew out of the National Conference of Community and Justice. Cordell Meeks, Jr. first joined the NCCJ as a board member in 1953, when he was still in high school. Some 20 years later, he came back to the organization as chairman of the board. Juan Rangel says Judge Meeks was a role model for him and many others.
Judge Meeks was a second generation law graduate of the University of Kansas. His father, Cordell Meeks, Sr. was the first African American district court judge in the state of Kansas. Meeks had a life-long interest in the success of minorities at the KU graduate school as well as for the Juniper Gardens Children's Project, a program for at-risk children in urban communities. Meeks stayed highly involved with the KU Alumni Association in a variety of capacities. University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway says Cordell Meeks was a personal friend, as well as long time friend to the university.
Judge Meeks had said he felt not enough African Americans got involved with the cultural institutions of the community. He had been on the board, or on committees of more than 30 organizations. One of Judge Meeks' favorite organizations was the Truman Presidential Library and Museum. Alex Burden is the executive Vice President of the Institute.