Judge Kaliste Saloom dies at 99 - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Judge Kaliste Saloom dies at 99

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Judge Kaliste Saloom, Jr. (Courtesy: Saloom Family) Judge Kaliste Saloom, Jr. (Courtesy: Saloom Family)

Kaliste Saloom, Jr., the noted Lafayette judge and historian, has died.  He was 99

Saloom's son, Kaliste Saloom, III, announced his father's death via a Facebook post Sunday morning.

Saloom was born in Lafayette in 1918 to Lebanese immigrants.  After graduating from Cathedral High School and the Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana), Saloom received his law degree from Tulane University in 1942.  World War II forced Saloom to put his legal career on hold.  Saloom spent 18 months in French North Africa as a special agent in the American Armed Forces Counterintelligence Corps before fighting in the American 7th and French 1st armies during the invasion of southern France in 1944.  In all Saloom spent three years in the military during and immediately after the war.

Upon his return to the United States, Saloom opened a law firm in Lafayette. Within three years of beginning his practice, Saloom was named Lafayette city attorney.  During that time, he helped establish Lafayette Parish's permanent voter registration program.  He also aided in the development of the Lafayette Utilities System.

In 1953, Saloom was elected to the post of Lafayette City Judge.  In his 40 years as city judge, Saloom reformed the process of issuing traffic tickets in the city to prevent local officials from "fixing" or discarding violations.  He also oversaw the expansion of the city court in 1984 from one judge to two.  In 1992, Saloom briefly served on the Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal.  During his time on the bench, Saloom received numerous awards from local and national organizations, including the American Bar Association.  He also served on several councils and boards, including the Louisiana Supreme Court Judicial Council, on which he was the first city judge to serve.  He also served on the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and the National Conference on Uniform Bail and Criminal Justice.  Closer to home, Saloom helped found the Lafayette Juvenile Detention Home and the Acadiana Safety Council.

After 40 years on the bench, Saloom retired in 1993.

Saloom remained active in civic affairs even after his retirement. Saloom was noted as a foremost authority on Lafayette history and was an early ardent supporter of CODOFIL.  Saloom was the 1965 winner of the Lafayette Civic Cup and the Salvation Army's Man of the Year in 1966.  Saloom was also a major participant in Lafayette's Mardi Gras festivities, serving as King Lacassine of the Krewe of Attakapas in 1969 and King Gabriel L of the Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras Association in 1989.  Saloom was also a fervent supporter of UL, helping his alma mater in fundraising efforts and regularly attending university events.

“We have lost a community icon," UL president Joseph Savoie said in a statement.  “Judge Saloom was a walking encyclopedia of University and community history. He not only knew the facts of history, but the nuances behind the facts. He was an integral participant in the development and evolution of the University, and while his presence at University events will be missed, his legacy will be remembered and cherished.”

The Lafayette Police Department also issued a statement regarding Saloom's death. "We, the men and women of the Lafayette Police Department express our sincerest condolences to the family of Judge Kaliste Saloom. His Honor leaves a legacy of justice which we will endeavor to preserve and protect. We shall join Acadiana in celebrating the life of an American Patriot, legal scholar, gentleman lawyer, friend and neighbor. Thank you your Honor, and Rest In Peace."

Saloom was inducted into the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame in 2006, the Order of Living Legends at the Acadian Museum in 2009, and the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame in 2016.

Saloom is survived by his wife Yvonne; children Kaliste, III, Douglas, Leanne, and Gregory; their spouses; 11 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and a host of other relatives. 

Funeral arrangements for Saloom are pending.

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