DELLANA, JEROME ANTHONY (1932~2004) Jerome Anthony "Jerry" Dellana, state district judge, was born in Austin, Texas on April 29, 1932, to Charles F. and Emma Farro Dellana. The youngest of four children, he grew up on the family's farm, west of Zilker Park, now the communities of West Lake Hills and Rollingwood, and attended St. Mary's Cathedral schools and St. Ignatius School. After graduating from St. Edward's High School and St. Edward's University in 1954, where he was named a Distinguished Graduate in 1974, he graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in May 1957, with a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree.
After receiving his bar card in February 1958, Dellana began working as an assistant County Attorney under Tom Blackwell. When Blackwell was promoted to Judge of the County Court at Law, Dellana, then only 29 years-old, was appointed Travis County Attorney. Only holding that position a short while, he decided to challenge incumbent, Buck Smith, for his position as Justice of the Peace.
Once elected, Dellana took over Travis County's busiest court and played a part in one of Austin's greatest tragedies, the shootings from the University of Texas tower. On August 1, 1966, Charles Whitman, after killing his wife and mother, climbed to the top of the tower and began shooting at passers-by. In all, 14 innocent people were killed, along with Whitman, who was killed by police officers. As Justice of the Peace, Dellana was responsible for determining the cause of death for Whitman, his victims, and his mother and wife. In a 1989 interview with the American-Statesman, he was quoted as saying "the memory haunted him every time he drove towards campus."
In May 1967, Dellana was elected Judge of Travis County Court at Law #1. At 33 years-old, he was the youngest presiding judge in Travis County. After serving on that bench for 8 years, he ran for the newly created 201st District Court in 1974. Successfully defeating the appointed incumbent judge, he went on to preside over the court for the next 21 years. In all, Dellana served the people of Travis County and the State of Texas for 38 years as an elected official. He also served in the United States Army Reserve in the First Judge Advocate General detachment and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Even though Judge Dellana continued to serve as a visiting judge, he preferred to spend his time working on his ranch in Dripping Springs, Texas. He passed away on Tuesday, March 9, 2004, and was buried in the Texas State Cemetery a week later.
Judge Dellana is survived by two daughters, Denise Ann Dellana Tharp and Deanna Lynn Dellana, and four grandchildren, Emily Ann Tharp, Travis Gary Tharp, Samantha Jane Robarts and Justin Scott Thomas Robarts.
Information taken from: Longtime District Judge Jerry Dellana dies, Austin American-Statesman, Sunday, March 14, 2004; obituary, Austin American-Statesman, Monday, March 15, 2004; and State Bar of Texas website, http://www.texasbar.com/.