METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Retired U.S. District Judge Frederick J.R. Heebe, who served as chief judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana for more than 20 years, has died after a long illness. He was 91.

Ron Nabonne, a family spokesman, says Heebe died Sunday at his home in Metairie. A memorial is set for Saturday.

The New Orleans Advocate reports President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Heebe to the federal bench in 1966. He also served six years on the state’s 24th Judicial District Court bench and two years with the Jefferson Parish Council.

Over 30 years, Heebe handled cases involving historic preservation in the French Quarter and played a minor role in Orleans Parish District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation into President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Serving on the court through much of the civil rights era, he also ruled on cases involving public school desegregation, employment and housing discrimination and voting rights, including a case in which he ruled that electing only at-large council members in Plaquemines Parish discriminated against black residents.

Heebe also ruled in cases involving reapportionment and protests against the Vietnam War.


Heebe graduated from Fortier High School and Tulane University before serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was wounded on Okinawa and was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

After the war, Heebe earned his law degree from Tulane and went into private practice. He became chief judge in 1972 and served as a full-time jurist until taking on part-time “senior status” in 1992, on his 70th birthday. He retired fully in 1996 due to health issues.

Heebe’s son, lawyer and businessman Fred Heebe, is a former Jefferson Parish prosecutor who became embroiled in a probe by federal prosecutors into alleged corruption tied to the River Birth Landfill he owned. That case was dropped after the younger Heebe revealed that several high-ranking federal prosecutors had been posting anonymous online comments about cases they were working on.

In addition to his son, Heebe is survived by his wife, Doris; a daughter, Adrea Dee Heebe; two stepchildren, Glennda Bach and Earl Stewart Jr.; 11 grandchildren and step-grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home, followed by a memorial service. Burial will be private.