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.
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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.