Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stussie to Doff His Robes Absence from Bench Will Be Temporary

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stussie to Doff His Robes Absence from Bench Will Be Temporary

Article excerpt

After nearly 32 years on the bench in St. Louis County, Circuit Judge Harry J. Stussie is taking off his robes. He'll do it on Friday. But 10 days later - with a new title - he'll put them right back on.

Stussie, a white-haired jurist with a quick wit, will reach next month the mandatory retirement age of 70. When he returns to a courtroom two weeks from now, he'll be called a senior judge, and his duties will be part-time.

Appointed by Gov. Warren E. Hearnes in 1971, Stussie was the first St. Louis County Judge sworn in under the nonpartisan court plan.

Hearnes, a West Point graduate, had an affinity for combat veterans - and Stussie was a natural.

On July 28, 1944, Japanese soldiers overran U.S. lines on Guam in the South Pacific. Thirty Marine riflemen sent to plug the gap were ambushed by 200 Japanese.

In 30 minutes, nine of the 30 Marines died; 13 were wounded.

Stussie, 19, was shot below the left eye, and the bullet exited from the back of his head.

With typical Stussie humor, he says: "I'm the only judge on this bench with a real hole in his head."

He spent nine months in hospitals in Hawaii, Washington state, Idaho, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Case Load of Murders

His head wound in Guam won Stussie his second Purple Heart. Earlier, he was hit by shrapnel.

Stussie's lieutenant lasted seven days in that battle before he too was wounded. His name: Orville Freeman, later to become the two-term governor of Minnesota and Secretary of Agriculture under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

"We all got discharged, and we all got married," Stussie recalls.

That's the way it was for Stussie, who married his childhood sweetheart from the Walnut Park area of St. Louis in 1945. Stussie was the son of a police officer killed in 1931 when a truck hit him.

Harry and Dolores Stussie have five children, 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

After graduating from Washington University law school in 1949, Stussie practiced in Ferguson and Clayton until winning election in 1962 as a magistrate judge. He held that job until Hearnes appointed him eight years later.

Stussie has presided over dozens of murder cases. …

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