Judge Pam Reeves was a trailblazer

Sandra ClarkInside 640, Obits

U.S. District Judge Pamela Reeves touched many lives and left a city to mourn her passing on Sept. 10 at age 66.


In 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Reeves to be the first female federal judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee. She was confirmed unanimously by the Senate the following spring, and at the time of her death she was serving as chief judge of the district, the first woman to serve in that role in the 222-year history of the court.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon called Judge Reeves “a compassionate leader, a friend and a true trailblazer.” She also was the first woman to serve as president of the Tennessee Bar Association. She was married to Knoxville Law Director Charles Swanson.

“She was a very good judge and an even better person,” said lawyer Lynn Tarpy.

“The legal community has lost one of its brightest and kindest members,” said lawyer Donna Hipp Smith.

According to her obituary, she had a hard-scrabble upbringing in Marion, Virginia. The oldest of five sisters, Pam carried water from the creek for her family of seven living in a four-room house.

She was the first in her family to attend college, and she graduated from the University of Tennessee as a Torchbearer and member of Phi Beta Kappa. She attended law school at UT as well and that’s where she met Charles. They had a son, Reedy, and a daughter, Amanda. The family plans a memorial service at a later date.

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