Metro General Sessions Judge Leon Ruben died Friday after an extended illness.
Metro Councilman Bo Mitchell, a consultant on Ruben’s last campaign for re-election, said Nashville and its legal community have suffered a “huge loss.”
“He was a great judge, and the most fair judge around,” Mitchell said. “He treated everyone the same.”
Mitchell said Ruben, who was Jewish, was well known for sitting on the bench on Christmas so that others could have time off with family.
In 1981, the Metro Council appointed Ruben to fill a vacancy in the General Sessions Court. He was later elected to the position in his first election in 1982.
Prior to serving as a judge, Ruben worked as a local businessman and attorney. He and his family were “pillars” of the community, according to Charlie Cardwell, the Metro trustee.
Cardwell said the Ruben family owned a clothing business near the former Howard High School from which both he and Ruben graduated two years apart.
“He and has family have long been leaders in the community,” Cardwell said of Ruben. “He will be missed.”
Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall said Ruben will be "greatly missed."
"Being around 22 years, and in every capacity I held, he was the stalwart," Hall said. "From overcrowding to new facilities, he was the go-to guy [for assistance]. I'm not surprised he fought the illness as hard as he did."
The Metro Council is tasked with appointing Ruben’s replacement in a process similar to the way members recently tapped Howard Gentry as Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk to replace David Torrence, who resigned.
Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors will announce the vacancy at the Oct. 18 council meeting, according to council attorney Jon Cooper. From there, the council would begin accepting nominations, which can come from citizens outside the council.
Nominations then go to the Nashville Bar Association, which will conduct a poll among its members.
Cooper said the council would likely vote on Ruben’s replacement by the second council meeting in November.
Ruben graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1956 and received his law degree from Nashville School of Law six years later. He was a member of the West End Synagogue, the Nashville Bar Association, the Tennessee Bar Association, the Tennessee General Sessions Court Judges Conference, the Lawyers’ Association for Women and the American Bar Association.
Ruben is survived by his wife, Sandi, as well as four children and 10 grandchildren.