Former Luzerne County Judge Hugh Mundy dies at 83

·5 min read

May 26—Former Luzerne County Judge Hugh Mundy died Friday at his Butler Township home. He was 83.

When news of Mundy's passing spread throughout the community he served, there was an outpouring of emotion as those close to the former judge shared their stories of a man they all knew and respected.

Jennifer Warabak, executive director at the Commission on Economic Opportunity, said Mundy's contribution to the organization was immeasurable.

"The judge was chairman of our board for the past 17 years," Warabak said. "He was a wonderful person — well liked and well respected."

Warabak went on to say that Judge Mundy "was a very unique person, but he was a regular guy, courteous and friendly and he will be missed by our staff, CEO and the community. He was remarkable."

Warabak discussed the transition in November 2022 after the passing of CEO Executive Director Gene Brady, a close friend of Judge Mundy.

"We couldn't have asked for a better person to lead us through that difficult time," Warabak said.

'He was a good human being'

Ed Mitchell, a political consultant who worked with Judge Mundy on his campaigns, said Mundy was an example of how a good democracy works.

"He really didn't have a tremendous resume for running for political office," Mitchell said. "But he had such a strong personal character — his military and veteran records outstanding. He campaigned his heart out for a guy who was a civil case lawyer at a law firm. But he really could work a room and he emerged in a field of 17 to win both nominations."

And once he won his seat on the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas, Mitchell said Mundy served as a tremendous judge over the years.

"People trusted him," Mitchell said. "He was a good human being."

Mitchell said Mundy called him Thursday night and they had agreed to meet for dinner next week.

"I've had a lot of precious moments with him over the years," Mitchell said. "He was totally devoted to his wife, Rita. Nothing ever came between them. Rita was always first and foremost. And they have two great kids. It's a real American family and Judge Mundy was a true American hero. He is going to be greatly missed by many."

Andy Reilly, Luzerne County's director of economic development and its redevelopment authority, also spoke to Judge Mundy Thursday night and they were to meet for lunch Friday.

"The judge called to congratulate me on my appointment as executive director of the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority," Reilly said. "My county office provided a lot of funding for CEO and its programs. I think any attorney who ever appeared before Judge Mundy would agree that he was a straight shooter and a no-nonsense guy who approached his job of being a judge very seriously. That said, those same attorneys would all agree that Judge Mundy, above all, was fair."

And Reilly added that Judge Mundy was also a fun guy who would do anything for you.

"When we were at lunch, people would come up to him to say hello," Reilly said. "They were gushing and they just wanted to speak with him."

Attorney Joseph Vullo said he had great respect for Judge Mundy.

"And it had nothing to do with his position," Vullo said. "He was smart, kind and funny, and there was nothing put-on about him. He was just a good man."

Retired after long tenure

In 2010, citing health concerns, Mundy decided to retire, but he did continue to hear a limited number of cases as a part-time senior judge.

At the time, then-President Judge Thomas Burke lauded Mundy's contribution to the bench.

"He has been an exemplar of what a judge should be during his years of service," Burke said. "His reputation for integrity and wise decision-making is well recognized throughout the bar and legal community."

Mundy had served on the county bench since 1992. He handled primarily civil cases during his tenure. One of his more notable accomplishments involved the revamping of the process to appoint neutral arbitrators in uninsured-motorist arbitration cases.

Also in 2010, Attorneys John Dean and Mark Bufalino commended Mundy for his knowledge of the law and judicial temperament.

"All you care about when you go before a judge is that you not only get a fair hearing but the perception of a fair hearing. You always got that with Judge Mundy," Dean said. "His decisions, even when he ruled against you, were always well reasoned."

Bufalino appeared before Mundy for civil as well as criminal cases.

"He is the epitome of what a judge should be — patient, fair and knowledgeable," Bufalino said in 2010. "There were times he could be tough. He took on cases on a case-by-case basis. He didn't take a pre-determined approach."

Before becoming a judge, Mundy worked at Dougherty, Mundy, Levanthal and Price in the 1980s, where he had a "stellar reputation" and was known as "a man of his word."

Attorney Pat Dougherty, who co-founded the law firm with Mundy, described the former judge as "just a good guy" and said he will be reunited with his buddy, Gene Brady, and the two will be telling jokes once again.

"His only vice was golf," Dougherty said. "He would constantly buy golf clubs, so many that he would have them sent to the courthouse so his wife, Rita, wouldn't know about them."

Dougherty said Mundy was a "great law partner and a very good judge." He said he was compassionate judge who had served his country well in the military.

"He's a dear friend," Dougherty said. "He has a lovely family. I'm just so shocked. He was an honest, conscientious good person."

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