CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Judge Maryclaire Akers is remembering the life of a local respected jurist who died Wednesday.

Akers said retired Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Herman Canady Jr. operated on a fair, even playing field no matter where one would meet him, whether it be in the courtroom or out in the community.

“He was such a very calm and reasonable personality, very respectful, and I think that he kind of embodied what a judge should be,” Akers said.

Kanawha County Circuit Judge Maryclaire Akers

A release from the Kanawha County Commission Tuesday stated that the Honorable Judge Canady was a trailblazer, becoming the first African American student to attend Charleston High School in 1954.

Canady then went on to attend West Virginia University College of Law where he was again the only African American enrolled during his three years at the law school and the second to graduate at the time.

Later, Canady was appointed as Circuit Court Judge in Kanawha County in 1982 by former Governor Jay Rockefeller.

For the third time in his educational and then professional career, Canady found himself going where no black man had yet gone before in the area as the first African American to hold a position as judge in the county.

Akers said despite the challenges that came with breaking such social barriers, Canady never let it bring him down, continuing to pave the way.

“I’m sure, there’s absolutely no way there weren’t challenges, great challenges, that he had to overcome, but if there were, of course, I had never heard him speak about that and he definitely did not indicate any kind of negativity at all,” she said.

Canady went on to hold a long, successful career as a Kanawha County Circuit Judge, not only being elected for the first time in 1982, but again in 1984, 1992, and 2000.

Judge Herman Canady

During his tenure, Canady was appointed more than once to sit as special judge on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals.

He was elected as Chief Judge in the county by his peers in 1989, serving in that position until 1998.

Canady received the award of “Fairest Judge” by the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association for 1985 and 1986.

He was elected as President of the West Virginia Judicial Association in 2001 before his retirement in 2002. However, Canady remained an active member of the community and a well-respected mediator and senior judge status.

Akers said she first came across Judge Canady as a young assistant prosecuting attorney around 1999 or 2000.

She said in her experience, Canady was a humble man, never hearing him brag on himself one time despite all of his accomplishments.

“Being around the courthouse for as long as I have been for as many years and knowing all of the personalities that has been through, you can’t say that about a lot of people, but he really was a trailblazer and I think you kind of have to dig deeper and say it for him, because he would have never said that on his own about himself, he would have never bragged about his accomplishments,” Akers said.

Akers had requested a black drape be hung over the entrance of the Kanawha County Judicial Building in Canadys’ memory.

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