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William Wayne Kilgarlin (1932-2012)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1983-1988

William Wayne Kilgarlin was born November 29, 1932 in Houston, Texas. He attended Houston public schools and the University of Houston, where he earned a B.S. in History and Speech in 1954. He then joined the U.S. Army, served until 1957, and earned the rank of first lieutenant.

Kilgarlin was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1958 to 1960, and then entered The University of Texas School of Law, graduating in 1962. He was married in 1963 and practiced law privately for the next sixteen years. He was chairman of the Harris County Democratic Executive Committee from 1962 to 1966, and he served as judge of the 215th Judicial District Court in Harris County from 1978 to 1982.

Kilgarlin campaigned against James G. Denton for associate justice in the primary election leading up to the general election of 1982; Denton defeated Kilgarlin. But when Denton died in June 1982 Kilgarlin was placed on the ballot, unopposed, and was elected in November. He ran for reelection in 1988, but was defeated.

Following his supreme court service, Kilgarlin taught as an adjunct professor of law at Texas Tech University in 1990. He was appointed Court Master to formulate a plan for equality of Texas public school funding, and served from 1992 to 1993. He also served as counsel to Popp and Ikard of Austin. Following his retirement, he moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. He died on November 5, 2012 at the age of seventy-nine. He was buried in the Texas State Cemetery.


William Kilgarlin, Texas State Cemetery (accessed October 17, 2006).