William Steele Sessions was born on May 27, 1930, in Fort Smith, Ark., to the Rev. Will Sessions Jr. and Edith (Steele) Sessions. His father was a Disciples of Christ minister.
Sessions was a well-respected federal judge in San Antonio and a former U.S. attorney when President Ronald Reagan named him in 1987 to take over the bureau, which had been tainted by the Iran-Contra affair.
Five years later, Sessions was under a cloud. An internal ethics report found fault with his use of FBI aircraft to visit family and friends, and said he had improperly spent $10,000 in government money for a fence at his home. Attorney General Janet Reno pressured him to resign. Morale at the bureau suffered. He refused to quit.
Finally, in July 1993, Clinton fired him, after stalling for months in hopes of avoiding a political firestorm.
William grew up in Iowa, North Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas, graduating from high school in Kansas City, Kan., in 1948. He started college but dropped out in 1951, enlisted in the Air Force and rose to captain before being discharged in 1955.
After his military service Mr. Sessions attended Baylor University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1956 and a law degree in 1958. After 10 years practicing law in Waco, he joined the Justice Department in Washington as chief prosecutor of a backlog of cases involving draft evasion and voter fraud.
In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon named him United States attorney for the Western District of Texas. In 1974, President Gerald R. Ford appointed him a federal district judge in El Paso. He later became chief district judge in San Antonio.
After leaving the F.B.I., Mr. Sessions served on Texas commissions on crime, judicial efficiency and homeland security. In 2000, he became a partner in the international law firm Holland & Knight in Washington; he retired in 2016.
In 1952 he married Alice June Lewis. She died in December 2019. In addition to his daughter Sara, he is survived by three sons, William (who goes by his middle name, Lewis), Mark and Pete; nine grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Pete Sessions is a former congressman from Texas.more » « less