|A Eulogy to Dal M. Lemmon|
|Rotary Club of Sacramento|
Occasionally, as we travel down life's highway, we meet someone who causes us to stop and observe, "How fortunate I am to have this man as my friend." Such a man was Dal Millington Lemmon. Because he so endeared himself to us, his departure from this mortal life is all the more difficult for us to bear. Because of the great affection and respect that we had for this good and noble man, we now pause in the busy lives that we lead to say a few words in his memory, and at the same time, speak out, of our pride in having known him, of our thanks for what he did for us, and of our heartfelt sorrow that we will not again see him in this vale of tears.
Dal was born in Newton, Kansas, October 29, 1887, the son of Allan Bosley and Clara (Millington) Lemmon. As a small boy he came with his parents to Santa Rosa, California, where he lived until he was ready to go to college. For his Alma Mater, Dal chose Leland Stanford, Jr. University. He received his A.B. Degree from Stanford in 1908, and finished his work at the Law School in 1909. This latter year he was admitted to the Bar, and came to Sacramento to become the State Law Librarian. In 1910, he formed a partnership with our late fellow Rotarian, Fontaine Johnson. For the next 23 hears Dal practiced law out of the partnership offices here in Sacramento and earned the enviable reputation of being an able, conscientious, astute and scrupulously honest attorney. His standing at the Bar and among his fellow attorneys was such that on three occasions he was called to serve as President of the Sacramento County Bar Association.
In 1933, Governor Ralph was looking for an outstanding man to fill a vacancy on the Superior Court Bench in Sacramento County. It was only natural that under those circumstances he turned to Dal Lemmon. On June 30, 1933, it became Judge Lemmon, and remained thus thereafter. A distinguished career on the Superior Court Bench made Judge Lemmon the logical choice to fill the facancy on the United States District Court when it occurred in 1947. Even though Judge Lemmon was a Republican, President Truman selected him to fill the then existing vacancy. Judge Lemmon took his oath as the United States District Judge for the Northern District of California on February 17, 1947. This was not the last time that Judge Lemmon would be elevated as a member of the judiciary. On May 4, 1954, President Eisenhower selected Judge Lemmon to fill one of the new offices created on the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Thus he became a United States Circuit Judge. This office he held at the time of his death.
Judge Lemmon was an outstanding jurist. He was proud of being a Judge and thoroughly enjoyed his work. By is presence and his conduct, he added greatly to the stature of the Judiciary. He was admired and respected by the members of the Bar. The affection that his brothers on the bench had for his is exemplified better than I can express it by the fact that every single Judge who has served with Judge Lemmon, and who was physically able, attended his last rites to pay their final respects to him. Some of these gentlemen traveled hundreds of miles to be present. No greater testimonial of their regard for him could be given. Not only did those who worked with him respect and admire Judge Lemmon, but this feeling was shared by the litigants who appeared before him. He was a firm, but fair Judge. He listened diligently to the evidence, and carefully weighed the law in every case that came before him. No doubt there were those who disagreed with Judge Lemmon's decisions on occasion, but on person was ever able to honestly say that he had less than a square deal at Judge Lemmon's hands.
Dal Lemmon was no drudge. He worked long hard hours – probably too long, and too hare – but he enjoyed life, too. No one enjoyed a pleasant evening, a good story, or a little joke more than Dal. He enjoyed his friends and his neighbors, as they enjoyed his convivial company. He was always willing to help in the affairs of the community, and never shirked a responsibility as a citizen. He became a member of this Rotary Club, April 10, 1914, and retained his membership until the time that he left us. He was President of the Club during the Club year 1930-1931, and had a most successful term of office. Das was a Past Exalted Ruler of the Sacramento Lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He was also a member of the Sutter Club, the University Club, the Commonwealth Club, the Pacific Union Club, and the Del Paso Coiuntry Club.
One other organization, which was a source of pride and joy to Dal, was the Sacramento Grandfathers' Club, which he helped to found. He especially liked this organization because it grew out of that which was nearest and dearest to him – his family. On August 19, 1915, Dal was united in marriage with his devoted wife, Mary Alice, who survives him. To this happy union has come four fine children: A son, our fellow Rotarian, John Vincent Lemmon; a son, Richard M. Lemmon; a daughter Miss Maryalice Lemmon; and a son, Donald D. Lemmon, all of whom survive him. Dal loved his wife and his children dearly, and was proud beyond words of all of them, but nothing could equal the glow that would come across his face when he was with, or talking about, his grandchildren. They were truly "the apples of his eye", and the source of much happiness to him. Because Dal was so devoted to his family – a good and faithful husband, a loving and devoted father and grandfather – his passing cannot help but be most difficult for them. We can but extend our heartfelt sympathy to his family and pray that time, the great healer, may assuage their grief, and leave them only with the happy memory of those golden hours that they had with a kind and loving husband, father and grandfather.
As it must to all men, death came to Dal on April 26, 1958. A man of lesser courage would have gone sooner, but Dal Lemmon fought the good fight even with the grim reaper. We are all sad of heart at having lost our good and faithful friend. Things are not quite as good as they were when he was with us, but we take comfort from the fact that our lives, our city, our state and our nation are all better because we did have him with us. No one could know Dal Lemmon without liking him. That both of the local papers published a well deserved editorial praising Judge Lemmon is substantial proof of this fact. But to me the finest testimonial in this regard is a spontaneous event that occurred outside the Cathedral on the day of his funeral. Two elderly gentlemen were standing on the sidewalk. One said, "Whose funeral is that?". The other responded, "It must be Judge Lemmon's, for on one else had that many friends here." Could there have been any finer tribute? I am sure that this little conversation greatly pleased Dal as he looked down upon us there.
I close with a heavy heart, for we have lost an irreplaceable friend. May the family be afforded some comfort from the sincere sympathy which we extend to them. May our good friend and fellow Rotarian rest in eternal peace away from the cares of this troubled world.
© 2003 United States District Court for the Eastern District of California Historical Society.