Albert J. Engel died April 5 at the age of 89. He was a 1950 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and was appointed by Pres. Richard Nixon to the federal district court judge for the Western District of Michigan in 1970. Three years later, Pres. Nixon appointed him to the 6th circuit Court of Appeals. In 1987, he became chief judge, serving in that position until he assumed senior status in 1989. He retired from the bench in 2002. The U. S. Courts Library in Grand Rapids is named after him.
Judge Engel is survived by his wife Eloise; children Joe, Kate, Jim, and Mary; five grandsons and one granddaughter; and sister Louise Bone. A service celebrating his life will be held at St. Roberts Church in Ada, Michigan, at 11:00 A.M. on Thursday, April 11. There will be no public visitation or viewing, but all are welcome and invited to a luncheon in St. Robert's Newminster Hall immediately following the service. Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to the Land Conservancy of West Michigan or to the Friends of the Library for the Ardis Missaukee District Library of Lake City, Michigan.
The Grand Rapids Press published this remembrance, which includes a description of Judge Engel's thoughts on a school desegregation case in which he issued a 102-page opinion. The 1973 lawsuit sought the integration of Grand Rapids Public Schools; although the schools were not segregated by law, in practice black students were concentrated in a handful of schools in the southeast of the city. His opinion did not order busing, but directed the school board to reassign some black teachers to white schools. It was upheld on appeal.