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J. William  Ditter

J. William Ditter Jr.

Wednesday, October 19th, 1921 - Sunday, April 7th, 2019
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J. William Ditter, a senior judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, passed away on Sunday, April 7, 2019 at his Perkiomenville home at age 97. Nominated by President Richard M. Nixon, he received his commission in October 1970. In 1986, Judge Ditter assumed senior status and served in that capacity until his death.

On the federal court, Judge Ditter presided over high profile cases, including the Reading Railroad bankruptcy and one of the nation’s first aircraft hijacking cases. He heard civil rights cases, including one brought to the Justice Department against then-Mayor Frank Rizzo, the City of Phila., and many of its officials.

A 1943 graduate of Ursinus College, Judge Ditter received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1948. He worked as a law clerk for the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County and as an assistant district attorney in the county while in private practice with his late sister, Mabel Ditter Sellers, in Ambler, PA. From 1964-1970 he served as Judge on the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery County.

In 1942 he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve. Called to active duty during World War II, he was the disbursing officer U.S.S Amycus, a repair ship in the Phillipines and was again on active duty during the Korean War. Judge Ditter retired in 1968 having reached the rank of captain in the Supply Corps.

Judge Ditter served on the Board of Consultors for the Villanova School of Law and has been guest lecturer on constitutional law in an undergraduate program of Villanova University. He received an honorary law degree from Ursinus College and has been honored by the Montgomery County Bar Association and numerous civic organizations. An active participant in the work of his church, he has been a Sunday School teacher, a lay minister who has preached at Sunday Services, including a sermon at Old Christ Church in Philadelphia, and chairman of numerous church committees.

For more than sixty years he was married to the late Verna B. Ditter, the mother of his four sons: the late J. William Ditter, III, Esq., husband of Deanna, of Lansdale; George B. Ditter, husband of Rev. Maryanne Ditter, of Perkiomenville; Robert V. Ditter, of Franconia and David B. Ditter, husband of Kathleen, of Gilbertsville. Judge Ditter also has eight grandchildren: Scott W., Craig T., Bradley R., J. William IV, Sarah A., George B. Jr., Rebecca L. and Anna R. Ditter and seven great-grandchildren: Hailey A., Julia G., Ellie L., J. William V, Jacob W., Hannah G. and Nylah. Judge Ditter’s father was a member of Congress from 1933 until his death in 1943.

The judge’s hobbies have included beekeeping, photography, gardening, genealogy, softball and skiing. Also known for his love of a good story, Judge Ditter authored many annual Christmas letters, hoping to add to the merry and happy of the season.

A Funeral Service will be held on Monday, April 15, 2019 at 11:00 am at Tabor United Methodist Church, PO Box 38, 2209 Hendricks Station Rd, Woxall, PA 18979. Officiating will be Rev. Robert Amundson. Burial will be in the adjoining cemetery. Visitations will be held at the church on Sunday evening from 6 to 8 PM with a Masonic Service at 8:00 PM and on Monday morning from 9:30 to 11:00 am. Online condolences may be offered at www.mannslonakerfuneralhome.com . Arrangements entrusted to Mann-Slonaker Funeral Home, East Greenville, PA.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Sunday, April 14th, 2019 | 6:00pm - 8:00pm
    Sunday, April 14th, 2019 6:00pm - 8:00pm
    Tabor United Methodist Church
    2209 Hendricks Station Road
    WOXALL, PA 18979
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    A Masonic Service will be held at 8PM
  • Second Visitation

    Monday, April 15th, 2019 | 9:30am - 10:45am
    Monday, April 15th, 2019 9:30am - 10:45am
    Tabor United Methodist Church
    2209 Hendricks Station Road
    WOXALL, PA 18979
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    A Masonic Service will be held at 8PM
  • Service

    Monday, April 15th, 2019 | 11:00am
    Monday, April 15th, 2019 11:00am
    Tabor United Methodist Church
    2209 Hendricks Station Road
    WOXALL, PA 18979
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Tabor United Methodist Cemetery
    2209 Hendricks Station Road
    WOXALL, PA 18979
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Kinney Zalesne

Posted at 02:30pm
I, too, only learned last night. Judge Ditter was a wonderful person, boss, judge, and friend. My whole family feels sad for his whole family … we were all connected to and through this exemplary human being. May his memory always be a blessing and a source of strength for all who loved him.

Emily Lawrence

Posted at 11:28am
I didn't learn of the Judge's death until now. My sympathies and thoughts go to his family, including his "family" of law clerks. We loved Judge Ditter as a mentor, a humorist, a skier, a softball player and, most importantly, an example of how lawyers (and judges) should conduct themselves. He is, and will long be, missed.

William Frey

Posted at 07:27pm
I was saddened to see that Judge Ditter had passed away. I had the honor of being a student law clerk for him and it was my first taste of the real work of the law. Even though I was only a student, he allowed me to work cases and I remember will the debates we had in his chambers about the cases he gave me to research. Even though I only worked for him for one semester, he did inspire me to continue in the practice and I did just that for 40 years. His legacy to the legal community are the clerks and students he mentored.

William Frey

Isabell McIntyre

Posted at 10:54am
My sincere condolences to Judge Ditter’s family. He had an intelligent and keen wit, and a deep love of baseball, history, and the law. More importantly, he was a kind and generous person who truly cared for those around him. His was a life well lived, and I will miss this dear, dear man.


Sharon Klein

Posted at 08:42pm
My heartfelt condolences to the Ditter family. In warm memories and quiet celebration of a great man who meant so much to so many. To me as the Judge's first woman law clerk, Judge Ditter was an amazing teacher, mentor and friend. He instilled in all his clerks his love of public service and the rule of law. While he told others humbly he was just a county lawyer, his keen intellect and perception of people filled his cases. He sometimes did not sleep until he got his jury charge just right. Under the Judge's tutelage I know I became a better lawyer and person. I was honored to know him. Judge Ditter will be sorely missed. Sharon

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