“When I am sitting on that panel deciding cases, sometimes I find myself thinking that it’s like playing in a jazz trio and deciding how we’re going to play that tune most effectively so that it comes out sounding good..” Judge Myron Wahls
Judge Myron “Mike” Hastings Wahls
Park location: East of Livernois at Warrington and Chippewa.
Judge Wahls (1931-1998) was often referred to as a Rockefeller Republican, a term coined in the mid 1970’s to denote a moderate to liberal political stance similar to New York Governor / U.S. VP Nelson Rockefeller. He was a unique, talented man confident and comfortable in his own skin. The media described him as a tireless fighter in matters of the law and within his personal world.
Wahls was tireless. He served on the Appeals Court from 1982 – 1998. Reports indicate he reviewed cases at home up until his death from cancer. Prior, he was nominated by the Republican party to run against Frank Kelley (D) for the position of Michigan Attorney General in 1974. He lost the bid, but won an appointment to the Wayne County Circuit Court by Governor William Milliken in 1975.
Wahls was an Detroit Attorney and a member of the Michigan Employment Security Commission Appeals Board from 1969-1975. He fought for civil rights by marching in Alabama and Mississippi in 1964 as part of the Freedom Summer. He was tireless in his efforts to register people to vote.
An accomplished jazz pianist, he toured Europe with band leader, percussionist and vibraphonist Lionel Hampton during the 1980’s. Wahls played piano during his undergrad University of Michigan days, as well as in a trio at Northwestern University in Chicago. He graduated with his law degree in 1961. No academic slouch, he also earned a Master’s degree in law from the University of Virginia. He was born in Rushville, Indiana moving to Michigan as a youth and graduating from Ann Arbor High School in 1950.
Taken by cancer, he died shortly before his 67th year at his Detroit home. His wife Shirleyan served as a Detroit public school teacher for 42 years passing in 2011. They had two children.
The tiny triangular Hyde Park houses a gazebo and dedication plaque honoring Wahls. It’s a perfect location to remember this talented and tireless Detroiter as it’s near to his former residence and just a short walk up Livernois to Baker’s Keyboard Lounge.
Thanks for reading. Copyright ©Andrea Gallucci, 2015.