Charles A. Traylor II, who served as the judge at West Monroe City Court for more than 20 years, died over the weekend at the age of 87.
Traylor died of natural causes on Aug. 8 while in the company of his friends, family and his wife, Martha, to whom he had been married for 64 years.
“When my time comes, I hope it can be a similar experience,” said retired U.S. District Court Judge Robert “Robbie” James, of Ruston. “He was at peace, witty, joyful and his family was with him. The doctor initially told him he would have only a few weeks left. Charles hung on longer than that, but, showing his sense of humor in all circumstances, he told his family he didn’t want to embarrass them by staying around longer than he was supposed to.”
Retired state Supreme Court Justice Chet Traylor, described his brother’s death as a loss to the parish and state.
“He mentored a lot of the judges in Ouachita Parish and other parishes, too,” said Chet Traylor. “He was a really brilliant judge. He was smart. He could handle it, no matter where he was assigned as judge. He could handle it.”
“He was always fair, and anyone who left his courtroom could tell you that,” Chet Traylor added.
Charles Traylor was born in Columbia in 1933. He earned his law degree at LSU and became West Monroe’s city attorney in the early 1960s. In 1966, he joined the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s office where he worked for eight years as an assistant district attorney.
Retired Fourth Judicial District Court Judge John Harrison, of Monroe, said he met Traylor in 1966 shortly after he began practicing law in Monroe.
“He was a fine person and a fine lawyer,” Harrison said. “When I went to the DA’s office in 1970, he did a lot to show me the ropes at the office.”
Harrison, referring to his years of friendship with Traylor, noted that Traylor was a devout Christian. In addition to his devoted attendance at church, Traylor also served as a faculty member and teacher at United Theological Seminary in Monroe. He also served as a Sunday school teacher for many years.
“He was a very religious person and always sought to do the right thing,” Harrison said. “Really, he taught all of his coworkers to do the right thing.”
In 1974, West Monroe City Court Judge William “Bill” Norris III was elected to the district court, leaving a vacancy at the city court. In light of the vacancy, Gov. Edwin Edwards appointed Traylor as judge at the city court. Traylor was elected to his first full term as judge in 1975. He served at the city court until he retired in 1997.
James, who retired from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana in 2016, was elected judge at Ruston City Court in 1985. It was at that time, he said, that he first met Traylor.
“When I started in 1985, he had already been a judge for a number of years,” James said. “Charles was a mentor for my group of judges coming along. No matter what came up, he had seen it before and had wise advice to give you about how to handle matters, what could be done or what could not be done.
“Over the years, we became friends and I got to know his family. In my mind, he’s a man who did his duty to God, his profession and his community. And he did all that with joy.”
Bert Hatten, who served as mayor of West Monroe from 1966 to 1978, described Traylor as an “outstanding public servant who was always very compassionate.”
“He was a friend to just about anybody who knew him, and he was easy to be friends with,” said Hatten. “I don’t know of any enemies he had.”
Chet Traylor commended his brother for valuing honesty in all matters.
“We were talking about him recently, and someone made a comment that once he knew you weren’t going to lie to him, he would listen to whatever you had to say,” said Chet Traylor. “If he thought you were lying to him, you weren’t going to get very far.”
James echoed those remarks about Traylor’s integrity.
“You could always count on Charles to give matters serious consideration and do what was right, regardless of the consequences and who was involved, even if it was an unpopular decision,” James said. “He loved to tell a story. In most any situation that came up, it was rare that he did not have a story or a bit of wisdom to impart.”
“He was an inspiration to the rest of us,” he added.
A graveside service was held Wednesday for family and friends at Columbia Hill Cemetery.