Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Services Saturday for Judge Francis A. Gately, Dead at 68
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Services will be held Saturday for retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Francis A. Gately Jr., who died Christmas Eve at age 68.
Judge Peter Meeka, who knew Gately for more than 30 years, said the judge suffered a fatal heart attack while returning from Christmas Eve dinner with members of his family.
Meeka recalled yesterday that Gately was one of the first lawyers he was introduced to when he was admitted to the bar. The two became good friends, and Meeka moved into Gately’s office suite when the person who introduced them—Meeka’s uncle, Bob Kotchck—moved out of the El Monte office suite that he and Meeka were sharing.
“He was one of my favorite people from day one,” Meeka lamented. He said he learned of his friend’s death on Christmas morning, and “it was the worst news I’ve ever been given, ever.”
It was at Gately’s urging, he recalled, that he applied for the bench. His friend, he recalled, immediately came to his office when he learned of the appointment, and “he was so thrilled for me.”
Gately also presided over the weddings of two of Meeka’s children, Meeka related.
Gately became Meeka’s mentor judge, and the two of them ran the first domestic violence court in the old Rio Hondo Municipal Court. Gately told the MetNews last year that the assignment was particularly rewarding, because it included “putting marriages and families back together.”
Gately retired from the court Nov. 30 of last year after 19 years on the bench, but returned to sit on assignment. He had been working at the Alhambra courthouse, and put in a full day last Thursday, Meeka said.
The New York native was raised in Southern California, graduating from Loyola High School, Loyola University, and Loyola Law School.
He served from officer candidate to lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, and performed two tours of duty aboard the USS Prichett, receiving two Campaign Ribbons and a Campaign Service Medal.
Gately spent 15 years in private practice, periodically serving as a judge pro tempore in the Rio Hondo court before being elected commissioner in 1987, and appointed as a judge in 1989. He was elected in 1990, reelected in 1996, and elevated to the Los Angeles Superior Court by unification in 2000.
Saturday’s services will be held at St. Phillips the Apostle Catholic Church, 151 S. Hill Ave., Pasadena 91106. There will be a viewing from 9:30 a.m. to 10:15, with services to begin at 10: 30, followed by interment at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, 11160 Stanwood Ave. in Mission Hills.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy Gately. The couple would have celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary Monday.
He is also survived by sons Frank and Phillip, daughter Katie and his grandchildren.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company