POLK COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A retired Angelina County district judge died in his sleep on May 31 at the age of 78, according to a post on the Polk County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.
According to the post, Judge David W. Wilson, the retired judge of the 217th Judicial District Court in Angelina County was surrounded by his family members and loved ones when he died.
"He did acts of kindness for us that we didn't even know about, and he didn't think anything about, but it was such a big deal for us to get to the next step," said Subic Vu, who attended the funeral.
She said Wilson helped her family who was forced to leave Vietnam in 1975. Vu said Judge Wilson took her family under his wing and helped them out each step of the way as they adjusted to life in Texas.
A graduate of Southwestern University, Wilson received his law degree from the South Texas College of Law in Houston in 1969, the Facebook post stated. After he practiced law briefly in Houston, Wilson moved to Lufkin, and he became the county's first justice of the peace with a law degree.
Wilson wound up spending the next 33 years employed at the Angelina County Courthouse. In 1975, then- Angelina County District Attorney Gerald Goodwin hired Wilson as an assistant district attorney, the Facebook post stated.
Two years later, then-Texas Gov. Dolph Brisco appointed Wilson to serve as the first judge of the 217th Judicial District Court. He served in that capacity until October of 2006.
'"He had influence on me because he helped me become a better trial lawyer by advising and guiding and showing how as a judge you can be fair but at the same time strict and have a balance in the law," said Al Charanza, a trial lawyer who attended the funeral.
He was re-elected numerous times with no opponent.
"While on the bench, he disposed of an estimated 20,000 cases in his tenure," the Facebook post stated. "He presided over two capital murder cases, a medical malpractice case that was later heard by the Supreme Court of Texas and issued a nationally publicized ruling that freed a man from prison four decades after he was convicted."
After Wilson retired, he relocated to Polk County, where he served as a senior judge. He heard cases in various courts from 2006 to 2017.
"In addition to his career as a judge, he was known for his penchant for community service," The Facebook post stated. "He was a volunteer with the 4-H Clubs of Angelina County, the Angelina County Go Texan Committee of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the Angelina County Exposition Center Board, the American Cutting Horse Association Board, the Chancel Choir of First United Methodist Church Lufkin, and many other local organizations.
The Facebook post stated that Wilson will be remembered for "his love of family, his devotion to community, and his constant endeavor to do the right thing."
Judge Bob Inselmann now serves on the bench that Wilson held for so long before he retired in 2006.
"He served as the 217th district court judge, which is the position I hold now, and he was an outstanding jurist," Inselmann said. "He cared about following the law, but more importantly, he cared about the people who he served."
A memorial service was held for Wilson at the First United Methodist Church in Lufkin on Monday. An interment ceremony will be conducted at the North Belton Cemetery in Belton today at 4 p.m.
"Anyone wishing to make a donation in his memory is asked to donate to the scholarship funds of Southwestern University or the South Texas College of Law Houston.
Wilson is survived by his Martha, his wife, his children, step-children, and their spouses, his siblings, and 16 grandchildren.