Chief federal judge in western Pa. dead at 63

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gary L. Lancaster, the first black chief U.S. District judge in western Pennsylvania, has died.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office says Lancaster apparently died of natural causes at his Pittsburgh home after his son found the judge unresponsive Wednesday evening.

Lancaster was born in Brownsville and educated at Slippery Rock University and the University of Pittsburgh law school. He was appointed to the federal bench by President Clinton in 1993 and became the 25-county district’s chief judge in 2009.

Lancaster was known for his no-nonsense demeanor.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning says, “Judges watch what other judges do and he was fair and decent and he treated people with respect. He was the Walter Payton of the federal bench — he was tough but he was a sweet guy.”

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