Houston public officials, attorneys and friends are mourning the death of Harris County District Attorney Mike Anderson. The 57-year-old DA, who took office in January, passed away Friday night after a battle with cancer.
Belinda Hill, the Harris County District Attorney office's first assistant, confirmed the news in a statement released Saturday. "His sense of justice, his wisdom and support, his easy laugh, and, most of all, his friendship were his gifts to us. He loved this office and the people here serving the citizens of Harris County," Hill said.
Anderson was elected district attorney last November after 12 years as a State District Judge and 17 years as a Harris County prosecutor, where he tried a wide range of crimes from misdemeanors to capital murders. Anderson defeated then-district attorney Pat Lykos in a bruising Republican primary race last spring and cruised to victory against a token Democratic opponent in the general election.
"He made the calls that were right, not the calls that were popular."
He had been undergoing treatment for cancer since the spring, when he sent out an email to his staff in May explaining his illness without disclosing its specific nature.
Houston officials and attorneys released statement of condolences and praise for Anderson's public service. "My prayers are with the family of Mike Anderson today. He was a well respected public servant. His death is a loss to Harris County," Mayor Annise Parker said.
“The defining thing about Mike was his character," prominent Houston defense attorney Dan Cogdell said. "He made the calls that were right, not the calls that were popular. While I was on the other side of his decisions and didn’t always agree, I always respected his decisions. He was a lawyer’s lawyer and a man’s man.”
Houston Police Department Chief Charles McClelland said, “I was saddened to learn of the passing of Mike Anderson, who I have known for more than 25 years. He has contributed so much to the criminal justice system in Harris County and will be sorely missed. The community has lost a true champion for justice."
Born and reared in Pasadena, Anderson graduated from Pearland High School, Texas Lutheran College, and South Texas College of Law. He is survived by his wife, Devon, two children, parents J.B. and Carol Anderson, his sister Jan Bailey, her husband Brent and their children.
“We want to thank everyone for their prayers, and ask at this time that you respect our privacy,” his brother-in-law Dr. Brent Bailey said.
A memorial service will be held on Friday (Sept. 6) at 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main Street. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that memorials be given to Big Brothers Big Sisters or to the Harris County Drug Court Foundation.
Gov. Rick Perry will appoint a replacement for Anderson who will serve through the November 2014 general election.