Judge Elizabeth Hallanan died on June 8, 2004. She was 79 years old.
Hallanan was born in Charleston in 1925. After attending Morris Harvey College—now the University of Charleston—she earned a law degree from West Virginia University. In the mid-1950s, she served on the State Board of Education and in the House of Delegates before being appointed assistant commissioner of public institutions by Governor Cecil Underwood. In 1959, she became judge of the first full-time juvenile court in Kanawha County, making her the first woman judge of a court of record in West Virginia history.
Next, Hallanan served as executive director of the West Virginia Association of College and Universities and chaired the West Virginia Public Service Commission. In 1975, she opened her own legal practice in Charleston.
In 1983, Hallanan was appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan, making her West Virginia’s first female federal court judge. She’s best remembered for presiding over a case resolving problems with the state’s child support system. Throughout her career, Judge Elizabeth Hallanan was a groundbreaker for women in the field of law.