Judge Samuel James Ervin III, son of the late Sen. Sam J. Ervin Jr., died Saturday at the age of 73.
He collapsed in the morning during his daily walk and died at a hospital, said his son Samuel J. "Jim" Ervin IV.
Ervin was the chief judge of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals from 1989 to 1996. At the time of his death, he was North Carolina's only federal appellate judge in active service.
Ervin served as a part-time prosecutor in Burke County from 1954 to 1956. He was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1964 and 1966.
A year later, he was appointed by Gov. Dan Moore to serve as a Superior Court judge. He was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1980.