May 23, 1927 – Jan. 10, 2017
MaryAnn Killeen-Ast, of Buffalo, who 50 years ago became the first woman in New York State to serve as a Family Court judge, died Tuesday in Beechwood Continuing Care, Amherst. She was 89.
Judge Killeen-Ast was defeated in her first run for Family Court in 1965, but ran again and won a 10-year term in 1967. She was re-elected in 1977 and 1987. She could have served through 1997, but took early retirement in 1989.
“I feel my 22 years on the bench is enough,” she declared when she announced she was stepping down. By then she had served longer in Family Court than any other jurist up until that time. She served eight years as Family Court’s supervising judge, also a record.
While presiding as judge, she also held several additional posts. She was acting Supreme Court justice for the 8th Judicial District and served on the Advisory Committee on Family Law of New York State.
At the time of her retirement, she was president-elect of the New York Association of Family Court Judges and had been a recipient of University at Buffalo’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Born in Buffalo, she attended St. Mary’s Seminary. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in Washington, D.C., and was a graduate of UB Law School.
Early in her career, she was an associate with the Kenefick law firm, now Phillips Lytle, as well as with Letchworth, Baldy, Phillips & Emblidge.
She was treasurer and a member of the nominating committee for the Bar Association of Erie County and was a former president of Women Lawyers of Western New York.
A longtime member of the Twentieth Century Club and the Buffalo Yacht Club, she also was active in Canisius College, the Trinity Center, the Catholic Academy of West Buffalo, Lawyers Helping Lawyers and Lawyers for Learning. She was a staunch advocate for women in the legal profession.
She and her husband often entertained at their summer cottage on the lake shore in Canada, where she enjoyed her hobbies of painting, needlework, literature and theater.
Her husband, Robert J. Ast, an attorney and counsel to then-State Senate Majority Leader Walter J. Mahoney of Buffalo, died in 1998.
Survivors include many nieces and nephews.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Louis Catholic Church, Main and Edward streets.