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First Black Female U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Sandra Townes Passes

By Staff –


Sandra Townes - U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York. 092304

Sandra Townes – U.S. District Court Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

Federal Judge Sandra Townes, the first black female judge appointed to the bench of the Eastern District in New York, has passed way at the age of 73.

Judge Townes died at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC after a hard-fought battle with lung cancer.

In 2003, former president George W. Bush appointed Townes to the U.S. Eastern District Court, and, prior to that, she’d served as an English teacher at Corcoran High School in Syracuse, before attending the Syracuse University College of Law and obtaining her law degree in 1976.

Judge Townes had also been an adjunct professor at Onondaga County Community College and the Syracuse University College of Law.

Following her cancer diagnosis in 2015, Townes continued to work, although she had been unable to return to the bench as she had wished.

She is survived by her two children, James W. Townes III, of Brooklyn, NY, and Lauren Elisa Townes, of Syracuse.

Calling hours will be Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Bethany Baptist Church, 149 Beattie St., in Syracuse, and a celebration of Townes’ life will follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Bethany Baptist Church, and the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Ave, NY, NY 10065.

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