US District Court Judge, Retired
CLASS OF 1935
Life at W&J has changed a good bit since the Honorable Barron P. McCune was a student. But at 92 years old, he still attends every home football game and vividly recalls his years atWashington & Jefferson College. He remembers the tradition of freshmen and sophomores wrestling one another on the college field where Cameron Stadium now sits. As they wrestled, the men would pull the pants off their opponents and throw them up into the trees. When everyone was exhausted, the class with the highest number of men still wearing pants was declared the winner.
He also fondly remembers Dr. Alfred Sweet, a history professor, who used to tell wonderful jokes. McCune recorded some of the professor’s best jokes and submitted them to Judge magazine. “When they accepted one of these jokes for publication, they sent me a check for $2, which I split up between the two of us,” he recalls. “I said if he continued to tell jokes, I would write them down and send them in, and we could split the earnings. Of course, we had a good laugh over that.”
After his graduation, McCune initially took a job with Firestone and moved to Akron , Ohio . However, his father quietly urged McCune to study law, emphasizing that having a law degree did not necessarily mean he had to practice it. And so, McCune left Firestone when he was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania ’s Law School . Upon graduation he returned to Washington to begin his own law practice. By the time he left to serve in World War II in 1942, that practice had become one of the most successful in Washington County . Four years after he returned from service, he was elected as a common pleas judge.
Then, in 1971, President Richard Nixon appointed him as a U. S. District Judge for Western Pennsylvania. In this position, which he held until 1995, McCune earned widespread respect, presiding over prominent cases as disparate as those involving cocaine trafficking in major league baseball and those determining the rights of women with breast cancer to have insurance coverage for bone marrow transplants. McCune retired in 1995 as a 50-year member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.