Jawn Ardin Sandifer

Died: Friday, September 01, 2006
Age: 92
Jawn Ardin Sandifer, a retired New York State Supreme Court judge, Appellate Division and a former resident of Sag Harbor, died on September 1 in Sarasota, Florida.

Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Judge Sandifer was one of nine children. Although he aspired to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke Law School, segregation made this impossible. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., in 1935 and Howard Law School in Washington, D.C. In college he was the first freshman ever to be selected for the varsity debate team. Also during his undergraduate days he joined the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and remained an active member throughout his life.

Judge Sandiferís ambition was ďto become the leading architect in fighting the battle of civil rights and defining a strategy and approach for fighting de facto segregation.Ē

In 1949 he was elected president of the New York branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, where he worked closely with Thurgood Marshall.

The pinnacle of Judge Sandiferís career as a lawyer came in 1950 when he argued successfully before the United States Supreme Court in the Henderson dining car case, which outlawed dining car segregation. He became a justice of the New York Civil Court in 1964 and served as a justice of the New York State Supreme Court from 1969-1990. In 2005, Judge Sandifer was recognized by the New York State Bar Association in a tribute to the New York attorneys who made legal history during the civil rights era. He received numerous other awards, including the Justice Award from the NAACP for his lifetime of working toward achieving equal opportunity for all people.

He was married to Laura Sandifer for 41 years. They enjoyed their life together and had a home in Manhattan and Sag Harbor. She died of colon cancer in 1993.

Visitors to the Sag Harbor home were fascinated by the library downstairs where Judge Sandifer kept the many scrapbooks, awards, and photos that chronicled his life. The contents of the library are now at Moorland-Springarn Research Center at Howard University. Equally impressive were the stories he told about his life and times. No one could forget Judge Sandiferís distinctive voice and unique blue eyes.

He co-authored and edited several books including Minorities USA and The Afro-American in United States History. He had a personal love for books, particularly biographies.

An avid golfer, Judge Sandifer was a longtime member of the Noyac Golf Club. In later years, he moved to Sarasota, Florida where he was a member of Rolling Green Golf Course. He continued to play golf three times a week, as recently as a month ago. He was active and energetic throughout his 92 years.

He is survived by his wife, Elsa Krueger Sandifer of Sarasota, his son Floyd Sandifer of New York, his niece, Dr. Sherri Sandifer of Houston, his granddaughter Britany, and a loving extended family. A graveside ceremony was held on Saturday at Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor.
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