Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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After his graduation from the Law School, he became associated with his father in the practice of law, the firm name being Munger and Munger. His father had been prosecuting attorney in the City Court of Ansonia in the famous "Chip Smith" case (State v. Smith, 49 Conn. 378) and a special assistant state's attorney to Tilton Doolittle, state's attorney, when the case came before the Superior Court.
Judge Munger was Ansonia corporation counsel in 1906 and served as City Court judge from 1911 to 1927. He was chairman of the board of education of Ansonia and in 1917 was chairman of the fifth Congressional district draft board. He was also, beginning in 1921, a director of the Ansonia Library, and he was president from 1931 on. He was a member of the Elizabethan Club of Yale, the George Washington Lodge A.F. & A.M., the Ansonia Lodge of Elks, and the First Congregational Church of Ansonia.
He was named to the Court of Common Pleas in 1927 by Governor John H. Trumbull and remained on that bench until 1937, when Governor Wilbur L. Cross nominated him for the Superior Court, where he remained until his retirement in 1945 at the age of seventy.
Judge Munger's book of verse, entitled "The Land of Lost Music," was published in 1912. It was in that year that President Theodore Roosevelt named Judge Munger among the six leading poets of the United States. He contributed many poems and literary offerings to newspapers locally and in the state as well as to the metropolitan dailies. In 1933, his classmates of 1897 presented the Ansonia Library with a gift of thirty-eight volumes in his honor. At all class dinners he was always the toastmaster, and at each reunion the dinner program which outlined the menu and the list of speakers concluded by stating, "The toastmaster as usual." His poem to John Harvard from Eli Yale on the occasion of the 1947 reunion of the classes of 1897 at Yale and Harvard was printed in all papers throughout New England. Immediately after World War I, the then president of Yale, Arthur Hadley, commanded Judge Munger to write the "Ode to the Service Flag," which hangs in the dining room of Woolsey Hall today.
Judge Munger was a renowned public speaker and was in great demand as a presiding officer. His delightful wit, his command of language and his ability to turn a phrase and to ad lib made him a most charming companion. He was one of two speakers at a dinner given by the Yale Club of Cincinnati, the other being President William Howard Taft. Judge Munger's conversation, filled as it was with gems of wit as well as philosophical advice, and graced by a delightful vocabulary, always commanded attention and respect. He was the outstanding orator and scholar of our bench and bar and his verses were a treasure to possess. He was the center of attraction at all bar affairs, and even in the courthouse halls or his chambers his engaging personality captivated all who had the pleasure and honor of knowing him. Distinguished scholars such as Dr. Lowell of Harvard, Dr. Hibben of Princeton and Colonel Marse Waterson of the Louisville Courier-Journal begged him to forsake the law and turn to literature. He responded that he had a poet's heart, but a lawyer's pocketbook.
His memory will always be cherished by his countless friends and admirers and by all who had the good fortune to hear him speak. As a jurist, he was dignity personified and was keen and alert in all matters before him. He could distinguish truth from falsehood or exaggeration and gave his decisions quickly at the close of the case he heard. On the criminal side, he was sympathetic with the first offender and would make every effort to be as kind and just as possible. He had no sympathy for repeated offenders and would be just but firm in his sentences.
Judge Munger was married to Nancy Dunn in 1926 and a son, Robert Lewis Munger, Jr., was born in 1928. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio, and is the father of four children, who will ever cherish the memory, kindness and thoughtfulness of their illustrious grandfather.