Allen Pepper had a genuine love of people.
It came across every time you ever saw him.
Tall and slim, with a chiseled faced that seemed to never show the burden of the decisions he made daily as a federal judge, Pepper had a way that eased folks in trying times, delighted them in good times and inspired them in times of need.
Judge Pepper, 70, died Tuesday when his heart that had given so much to so many over the years gave way in a heart attack.
“The Northern District has lost a Judge of impeccable character and a man of great personality. He was the most fundamentally decent man whom I have ever known. He was a dear friend and a beloved colleague. We will not soon get over Allen’s passing,” said Chief Judge Michael P. Mills, in a statement released by the court late Tuesday.
And he was better than that.
Mississippi has lost a great, great man — one that I can only hope that my son will grow to be like.
A Belzoni native, Pepper went on to Ole Miss to college, where he also earned a law degree.
He ended up in Cleveland where he ran his law practice for years before being appointed to the bench in 1999 by President Bill Clinton.
Donna Barnes, of Tupelo, a judge on the Mississippi Court of Appeals, said Pepper’s “service to the bench, the bar and the public was exemplary.”
Mills said he and the other three judges will divide Pepper’s case load with special priority to the criminal cases. Pepper can be replaced only by a presidential nomination and U.S. Senate approval.
However, it is Pepper, the man, that will never be replaced.
He raised his family, loved his wife and led his life in a way that is an example we all should aspire to.