Yakima Judge Dies at 79 - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima Judge Dies at 79

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YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - US District Judge Alan McDonald of Yakima has died at age 79.

Mcdonald, who had been on senior status the last 11 years, died Thursday at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital.

He battled recent health problems and collapsed earlier this week while having lunch at a restaurant.

McDonald became the first Yakima Attorney to serve on the federal bench in 74 years when he was appointed to a judgeship in the Eastern District of Washington in 1985.

Senior US District Judge Justin Quackenbush of Spokane described McDonald as a "judge's judge," who decided cases based on the facts and the law, rather than personal consequences.

Still, McDonald's time on the bench included controversy.

He ultimately recused himself from the Hanford downwinder case he had handled for 13 years.

Plaintiffs, who claimed their health had been damaged by radioactive releases from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, said his ownership of land near Hanford damaged his ability to decide the case.

McDonald is survived by his wife, a brother, three daughters and three grandchildren.