Graydon Kelly Kitchens, Jr., was born on July 19, 1936, in Minden, Louisiana, and died on Sunday, June 12th, 2022. He was 85 years old.
The son of Graydon Kelly Kitchens, Sr., and Glennie Mae Prothro Kitchens, Graydon was a 1954 graduate of Minden High School, and a 1958 graduate of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where he achieved a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in French. While at LSU, Graydon was a member of Scabbard & Blade, was a Distinguished Military Graduate, was President of the Baptist Student Union, and was a pitcher for the LSU baseball team, which earned him a varsity letter and membership in the “L” Club. In 1960, Graydon married Roberta Mae Carroll of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Graydon and Roberta loved to share that they met at the LSU Baptist Student Union (BSU), they dated at the BSU, they got married at the BSU, and then they lived at the BSU in the first years of their marriage. They celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary on Saturday, June 11th, remaining committed to each other for a lifetime.
Upon graduation from LSU, Graydon served in the US Army as a Lieutenant in the Infantry Branch from 1958-1960. He completed his Juris Doctorate at LSU Law School in 1964, where he was inducted into Order of the Coif, served as Associate Editor of the Law Review, was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, and served as President of the Student Body. Following law school, Graydon clerked for Judge John T. Hood, Jr., with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and then for US District Judge Ben C. Dawkins before admission to the Louisiana Bar Association in 1964. He entered into the practice of law with his father, Graydon K. Kitchens, Sr., at the firm of Kitchens, Benton & Kitchens in Minden in 1964. He became Assistant District Attorney in Webster Parish in 1971, and was elected Minden City Judge in 1976. In 1978, he was elected District Judge for the 26th Judicial District, Bossier and Webster Parishes, where he served for 17 years, the last seven years as Chief Judge. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Louisiana District Judges Association, and a Member of the Louisiana Judiciary Commission, where he also served as Chairman. Graydon was Chairman of the Louisiana Supreme Court Task Force on Cameras in the Courtroom, and he also served on a number of state judicial committees including the Committee on Complex Litigation, the Committee to Review Requests for New Judgeships, the Committee on Campaign Contributions, and the Committee on the Courts/Community Relations. In 1995, Judge Kitchens was named Louisiana Bar Foundation Jurist of the Year.
Graydon was President of the Minden Jaycees from 1966-1967, and State Treasurer of the Louisiana Jaycees in 1968. He was named Outstanding Young Man in Minden in 1971. In the early 1970s, Graydon was an active and involved member of the Minden Chamber of Commerce where he served as President, President of the Minden Industrial Development Corporation, and Vice President and Director of the Minden Lions Club, where he was an active member for 56 years. In 1983, Graydon was named Man of the Year in Minden.
Beyond his professional success and outside of his family, Graydon loved and served his church, First Baptist Church of Minden. He became a member of FBC in 1948 when he was just 11 years old, and served there over his 74 years of membership as Deacon, Sunday School teacher, Choir Member, on the Board of Trustees and on the Building Committee. He served on the Board of Trustees for the Baptist Message from 1981-1987, and on the Board of Trustees for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1982-1992.
Upon retirement from the bench in 1995, Graydon returned to the practice of law in Minden at The Kitchens Law Firm along with his brother, Paul E. Kitchens, and his son, Graydon Kelly Kitchens, III. In addition, he conducted Medical Malpractice panels for the MAPS program for more than a decade. He also served as Assistant District Attorney for Webster Parish under the leadership of DA Schuyler Marvin from 1995 until the present.
Graydon is survived by his wife of 62 years, Roberta, along with their three children: Graydon “Gray” Kelly Kitchens, III (Kim), Amy Kitchens Butler (Bryan), and Allison Kitchens Copple (Eric). He is also survived by six grandchildren, Bennett Gray Kitchens (Samantha), Alexander Jameson Butler (Alexa), Jacob Stuart Butler, Betsy Grace Kitchens, Ford Lawson Copple, and Ellery Blaine Copple; along with his brother Paul Edward Kitchens (Cheryl), nieces Laurie Erickson Chiron (Yannick), Kelly Erickson Robb (Dan), and Kristen Kitchens Black (Clint), and nephew Jonathan Paul Kitchens (Amy), along with eight great-nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his beloved sister-in-law Jonnie Carroll Porter and husband Don. He was preceded in death by his parents along with his sister Betty Kitchens Erickson and her husband Quinton Lamar Erickson.
The defining characteristic of Graydon Kitchens was his faith in Jesus Christ. His favorite verse and the one that best defined his life is Isaiah 30:21, “And your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” He was a good and faithful servant, discipling countless people and praying faithfully for his family, friends, and co-workers, as well as for those who entered his courtroom during his decades on the bench. Considered the patriarch of his extended family, Graydon had a great talent for story-telling, a well-known passion for LSU athletics, and an incredible devotion to his beloved wife and family. He will be greatly missed.
Visitation for Judge Kitchens is scheduled for Tuesday, June 14th from 5:00 until 7:00 PM at the main sanctuary at First Baptist Church in Minden. Funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday, June 15th at 10:00 AM at First Baptist Church in Minden.
The family have asked Rick Buckner, Dean Fields, Gary Haynes, Steve Lee, Kevin McCann, Schuyler Marvin to serve as pall bearers, with honorary pall bearer Mike Holomon.