Thursday, November 28, 1996 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Judge Charles Stokes, 93, Dies

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Judge Charles Stokes, a gifted orator as well as a civil-rights advocate, was a man of firsts.

He not only was the first African American in King County elected to the state Legislature, in 1950, but also the first black appointed to Seattle District Court, in 1968.

In 1957, he was among the first legislators to support a state lottery.

And he made headlines for returning leftover campaign contributions in 1968, an act one newspaper reporter called "the most unusual political move since the invention of the two-party system."

Mr. Stokes died of cancer Monday, Nov. 25. He was 93.

One of his proudest career moments came in 1952, "after his first year in the Legislature, when the Young Republican Club honored him with dinner for being the outstanding freshman," said his wife of 45 years, Josephine Stokes of Seattle.

It also gave him great pleasure to be inducted into the National Bar Association Hall of Fame two years ago, his wife said.

Born in Fredonia, Kan., to a baptist minister and his wife, he earned a law degree from Kansas University in 1931.

Even then interested in politics, he practiced law in Kansas and was the first black vice chairman of the Young Republican National Federation. He also was assistant attorney in the State of Kansas Commission of Revenue and Taxation.

Mr. Stokes moved to Seattle to practice law in 1943. He ran for a legislative seat in 1950 and won, subsequently serving three

terms. One of his accomplishments was co-sponsoring the Civil Rights Omnibus Bill of 1959 - which helped place Washington in the forefront of civil-rights legislation "with teeth in it."

In 1952, he spoke from the platform of the Republican National Convention on behalf of Dwight Eisenhower's candidacy.

He was appointed Seattle district judge in 1968. As a judge, he spoke at civil-rights gatherings throughout the Northwest.

He retired in 1978, continuing to serve occasionally as a judge pro tem in King County District Court.

Other survivors include his daughters, Vicki Stokes of Los Angeles and Stephani Oliver, New York; his son, Andre Wooten, Hawaii; four grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Services are scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Mount Zion Baptist Church. Memorials may be sent to the Mount Zion Scholarship Fund, 1634 19th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122; or Group Health Cooperative Hospice Program, 83 S. King St., Suite 515, Seattle, WA 98104.

Published Correction Date: 11/29/96 - Funeral Services For Judge Charles Stokes Will Be At 2 P.M. Tomorrow At Mount Zion Baptist Church. This Story Listed An Incorrect Time. -- Published Correction Date: 11/30/96 - Judge Charles M. Stokes' Survivors Include His Daughter Stephanie Stokes Oliver. This Story Gave An Incorrect Spelling Of Her Name.

Copyright (c) 1996 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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