The city of Chicago lost one of its finest justices, April 3, and the West Side lost a good friend. Judge R. Eugene Pincham often wrote notes to this newspaper about our coverage. When West Side ministers Rev. Marshall Hatch and Rev. Ira Acree came together to address a police incident in August 2006, it was Judge Pincham who came out to offer his legal expertise. Always a gentlemen with a sense of humor, he could have been an Ebony fashion model in his impeccable attire.
Eugene Pincham was born on June 28, 1925, in Chicago, the second son and youngest child of William Hugh and Hazel (Foote) Pincham. His parents divorced when he was six months old, and he and his brother William Hugh Jr., returned to his mother’s ancestral home in Athens, Alabama. After graduating from Trinity High School in 1941, he left Alabama for Chicago. He and his cousin, Charles Eric Lincoln, who later became dean of the School of Theology at Duke University, were the first African Americans to be employed at Children’s Memorial Hospital, where they were confined to custodial duties in the basement.
In 1944, Pincham enrolled at Tennessee State University, where he served as Alpha Theta Chapter Polemarch president from 1945 till 1947, when he entered the Northwestern University School of Law.
He began practicing law in 1951 and in 1976, Pincham was elected Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. He served until 1984, when he was elected Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court.
In 1948, he married the love of his life, Alzata, who taught school in the Chicago Public School system while Pincham finished law school. They raised three children, Robert “Scooter” Eugene Pincham Jr., Andrea “Sandy” Michelle, and James “Jim” Frederick. Often when interviewed on Chicago’s black-owned WVON radio, he would state, “My wife is sitting right here next to me.” They were married for 57 years until her death in 2005.
Judge Pincham was criticized after giving a speech advocating the election of Mayor Harold Washington, and eventually ran for mayor of Chicago, Cook County Board president and State’s attorney. Pincham cast his last vote in the Feb. 5, 2008 primary from his hospital wheelchair.
Eugene Pincham received numerous awards throughout his career and was a member of the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union among many others. He is survived by his children and his grandchildren, Evan Eugene Pincham and Christina Alexandria Pincham.
Services were held at Trinity United Church, 400 W. 95th St., officiated by pastors Rev. Otis Moss III and Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. on April 12.