Dring Needham '17
The Bulletin extends a belated birthday greeting to Judge Dring Needham 17, who records indicate is the Schools oldest living graduate of the LL.B. program.
Needham celebrated his 108th birthday on August 4 in Camarillo, Calif. That day he got a complimentary trim at The Barber Shoppe, where he is a longtime patron, and later enjoyed a birthday dinner at the Summer House, where he lives with friends.
This birthday was more low-key than Needhams 100th, in 1990, when the lifelong baseball fan was invited to Dodger Stadium, to help cut the cake for the teams 100th anniversary. Needham and the Dodgers were born in 1890.
The judge and his late wife, Ruth, to whom he was married for 65 years, had two daughters, Sally Needham and Ruth Mary Crowell, who live close by their father. He also has four grandsons and six great-grandchildren.
The "Iowa farm boy," as Needham calls himself, grew up in the tiny town of Bristow. He always wanted to be a lawyer, and considered it an "honor" to attend Harvard Law School. World War I interrupted his studies; he enlisted and served as a field artillery captain, completing his HLS degree in 1920, the same year he got married.
Needham practiced law for many years in a small firm he cofounded. In 1951 he was appointed a district court judge for Polk County, Iowa, and served with distinction until 1965, when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 75. He practiced law for another ten years, in Des Moines. He and his wife then moved to Leisure Village in Camarillo, where his many pastimes included the Village theater group.
Every year, when his birthday rolls around, Judge Needham becomes a media darling in the local press, which speculates he may be the oldest resident of Ventura County.