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A continued look back at Judge T. C. Almon

This week’s column picks up at Judge Almon’s service as Morgan County probate judge. 

He was a close political ally of Gov. Bibb Graves, about whom there has been some discussion recently regarding his young adulthood. I was taught by my teachers at MCHS that Graves had done more to promote greater educational funding for both races in Alabama than any of his predecessors.  This should be considered if proposals are made to rename buildings on college campuses bearing his name. 

Nov. 4, 1938—Morgan County circuit solicitor – now called “district attorney – T. C. (Cliff) Almon was appointed probate judge today by Gov. Bibb Graves to succeed impeached B. L. Malone.  

Judge Almon would go on to serve for 32 years, or five terms, as probate judge. He was scheduled to be sworn in for a sixth term in January 1970. No hint of scandal ever touched the probate office during Judge Almon’s long tenure. 

Nov. 14, 1938—T. C. Almon’s resignation as Morgan County solicitor took effect today, as did the beginning of his service as county probate judge. The new Judge Almon owed his original appointment as circuit solicitor and his most recent appointment as probate judge to Gov. Bibb Graves, with whom he has been politically close. Gov. Graves is known to believe that “Those that help bake the pie shall help eat it.” 

Sept. 21, 1939—For the benefit of the citizens of Hartselle and surrounding areas, Judge T. C. Almon announced today that he would have one of the clerks in his office at the city hall in Hartselle the remainder of the week to take applications for drivers’ licenses and, if warranted, for a longer period.  

No driving test was required. 

June 4, 1940—On the face of unofficial returns, T. C. (Cliff) Almon was elected to a full term as probate judge with a margin of 744 votes over Wallace Meadows, member of the board of revenue – or county commission. Judge Almon was appointed to the probate judgeship two years ago by then-Gov. Bibb Graves. Although probate judges are not required to be lawyers, Almon is and has a highly successful record of winning high-profile cases in the courtroom. 

At the time of the 1940 census, Cliff Almon was 47. He had been married for 14 years to the former Leda Brown. 

March 4, 1942—Norman Harris, a candidate for the Alabama House of Representatives, place No. 1, from Morgan County, charges that Probate Judge T. C. Almon has entered a candidate against him who is pledged to defeat any legislative effort to change Almon’s compensation from fees to a straight salary. It is estimated that Judge Almon presently gets about $12,000 annually from fees. The recommended salary for this official would be only half that amount. 

July 14, 1942—The mother of Morgan County Probate Judge T. C. Almon, Mrs. Annie Miller Almon, passed away today. She had outlived her husband, David C. Almon, by 13 years, he having died in 1929. She and Mr. Almon were married on Christmas Day 1888. Mrs. Almon is survived by two sons and four daughters, 11 grandchildren, two sisters and three brothers. Her remains will lay beside those of her late husband in the Decatur City Cemetery. 

March 2, 1952—Young attorney Ralph Slate, a Hartselle native, will challenge powerful incumbent T. C. Almon for the Morgan County probate judge position. 

Mr. Slate, who passed away at age 83 in 2010, graduated from MCHS with honors in 1944. Even though he was unsuccessful against Judge Almon, he was highly successful in subsequent campaigns for district attorney (1951-1958) and member of the Alabama House of Representatives (1962-1974). 

May 3, 1960—Morgan County Probate Judge T. C. Almon today was elected as an at-large delegate to the Democratic National Convention meeting this summer in Los Angeles. Although theoretically unpledged, Judge Almon is known to favor Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidential candidacy. 

July 11, 1960—Delegation Chairman T. C. Almon and other members of the Alabama contingent are now in Los Angeles for the quadrennial Democratic National Convention. The most important item on the agenda will be the nomination of the party’s presidential candidate. Sen. John Kennedy has the most delegates going into the convention, but he is being strongly challenged by Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, who is favored by most Alabama delegates. 

July 13, 1960—Alabama delegation chairman Almon persuades most of his fellow delegates to yield to Texas so that Lyndon Johnson can be nominated ahead of John Kennedy. Tallies already showed Kennedy had a majority vote among the delegates.   

Of course, Johnson ultimately became Kennedy’s vice-president and succeeded to the presidency following Kennedy’s tragic assassination. 

Aug. 8, 1960—Reflecting back on last month’s Democratic convention in L.A., Morgan County Probate Judge T. C. Almon was generally favorable in comments he made at a civic club meeting today. However, he said that in terms of the hotel accommodations for the delegation he chaired, they got “a pretty bum deal.” He speculated this was because Alabama Democrats had contributed extraordinarily little to the national party in recent years. Almon said the atmosphere of the convention was “bedlam.” 

May 7, 1968—Morgan County Probate Judge T. C. Almon swore in Lt. Gov. Albert Brewer as Alabama’s new governor following the sad death of Gov. Lurleen Wallace. Judge Almon had previously sworn in Gov. Brewer as lieutenant governor in 1967. 

Dec. 18, 1970—In his last public appearance, Probate Judge T. C. Almon was honored today at the dedication of the Almon Recreation Center at Point Mallard. 

Dec. 29, 1970—Morgan County Probate Judge T. C. Almon, age 77, died in a fire at his home in Decatur. Judge Almon was a heavy smoker, and it is believed he dropped off to sleep without extinguishing a cigarette.  

He was survived by his wife, Mrs. Leda Brown Almon. She lived as a widow for five years before succumbing in 1976.   

Other survivors included his sisters, Kathleen Almon McEntire and Annie Fay Almon Jones.   

Judge Almon was predeceased by his older brother, George Curtis Almon, who died in 1956.   

Expressions of sympathy were received by Judge Almon’s widow from a host of political dignitaries from throughout the state. The judge’s remains were laid to rest in the Decatur City Cemetery near those of his father and mother.   

To his closest friends, Judge Almon was known as “Judge Cliff.” He was easily the longest continually serving probate judge in the state, the “dean” of these judges. 

 

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