William Sessions

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William Steele Sessions​

4th Director of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation
In office
November 2, 1987​ – July 19, 1993​
President Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Preceded by William Hedgcock Webster​
Succeeded by Louis Freeh​

Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas​ (based in San Antonio with branch divisions in Austin, Del Rio, El Paso, Midland, Pecos and Waco
In office
1980​ – 1987​
Preceded by Jack Roberts​
Succeeded by Lucius Desha Bunton, III​

Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas​
In office
December 20, 1974​ – November 1, 1987​
President Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
Ronald Reagan​
Preceded by Ernest Allen Guinn​
Succeeded by Emilio M. Garza​

United States Attorney for the
Western District of Texas​
In office
1971​ – 1974​
President Richard M. Nixon
Preceded by Segal Wheatley​
Succeeded by Hugh Shovlin​

Born May 27, 1930
Fort Smith, Arkansas
Died June 12, 2020 (aged 90)​
San Antonio, Texas
Resting place Not divulged in obituary​
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Alice Lewis Sessions (married 1952–2019, her death)​
Children William Lewis Sessions
Peter Anderson "Pete" Sessions
Mark Sessions
Sara Sessions Naughton

William "Will" Anderson, Jr., and Edith Almetta Steele Sessions

Alma mater Northeast High School (Kansas City, Missouri)

Baylor University
Bayor Law School (Waco, Texas)​

Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1952–1955 (active duty)

William Steele Sessions (May 27, 1930 – June 12, 2020) was an American attorney and judge who was the director of the FBI from 1987, when he was appointed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, until 1993, when President Bill Clinton dismissed him. He was previously a U.S. Attorney and U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Texas.

He was the father of Republican U.S. Representative Pete Sessions, who has previously represented Texas' 5th and 32nd congressional districts, and who currently serves from the 17th district.​


Sessions was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, to the former Edith Almetta Steele (1907–1985) and the Reverend William "Will" Anderson Sessions, Jr., (1905–1998), a Church of Christ pastor and author who was born in Jackson, Mississippi. He also pastored in the Presbyterian denomination.[1]

The family of four also lived in California, Nebraska, and Missouri. Will Sessions authored Greater Men and Women of the Bible, The Week of the Cross, and the God and Country Award Handbook for the Boy Scouts. Son William Sessions was an Eagle Scout and a 1948 graduate of Northeast High School in Kansas City, Missour. He enlisted in the United States Air Force and in 1952 received an officer's commission. He remained on active duty for three years. He attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas, at which he received in 1956 a Bachelor of Arts degree and in 1958 a Bachelor of Laws.[2]

Sessions successfully prosecuted George Parr, the notoriously corrupt Duke of Duval County who aided Lyndon B. Johnson's theft of the 1948 Texas U.S. Senate election and rise to national prominence.[3]


From 1963 to 1969, William Sessions was a partner in the Waco law firm of Haley, Fulbright, Winniford, Sessions, and Bice, now Fulbright and Winniford. In 1969, President Richard M. Nixon named Sessions the Government Operations Section of the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., a post that he filled until his nomination and confirmation in 1971 as U. S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, based in El Paso.[2]

In 1974, Nixon's successor, Gerald Ford, nominated Sessions to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas]. He was Chief Judge of the court from 1980 to 1987.[2] President Ronald Reagan nominated Sessions to succeed William Hedgcock Webster (born 1924 in St. Louis, Missouri) as FBI Director. He was sworn into office on November 2, 1987.[2]

As the director, Sessions sought to improve the public image of the agency and proposed pay increases for the agents. President Reagan appointed him as a commissioner of the new holiday in honor of civil rights martyr, Martin Luther King, Jr. Though a Republican, his nonpartisan stance in office was often at odds with more conservative members of his own party. Sessions had an uneasy relationship with Attorneys General Richard Thornburgh and William Barr, who filled the office at the end of the first term of President George Herbert Walker Bush and returned nearly three decades later as attorney general in the Trump Administration. Sessions' strongest support came from liberal Democrats when he supported affirmative action to boost the number of minority FBI agents.[4] He also automated the FBI fingerprints office.[5]

Sessions was FBI director during the 1992 massacre at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, at which the unarmed Vicky Weaver and her infant son were shot dead by a confused FBI sniper. The agents were after Randall Claude "Randy" Weaver (born 1948), whom they alleged had tried to sell a sawed-off shotgun to an undercover agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Weaver subsequently received more than $3 million in settlement for the wrongful deaths of his wife and son. The next year, the FBI launched a 51-day siege of Ruby Ridge encouraged by the administration of Bill Clinton which ended with deadly assault of more than eighty Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.[6]

Clinton then claimed that Sessions had engaged in ethical improprieties, such as using an FBI airplane to visit his daughter on more than one occasion, and errors in judgment. Clinton asked for his resignation. When Sessions refused to leave on grounds that he had done nothing wrong, Clinton fired him. He had served just over half of his 10-year appointed term.[7]​ ​


In 1952, Sessions married his former classmate, Alice June Lewis (1931–2019), a native of Independence, Missouri, the 1948 high school class valedictorian, an ardent liberal Democrat, and a patron of theater arts and Planned Parenthood. The couple had four children: William Lewis Sessions, former U. S. Representative Peter Anderson "Pete" Sessions, Mark Sessions, and Sara Sessions Naughton.[8] Sessions was accused of relying too much on his wife, who publicly defended him against the allegations of "ethical improprieties." Sessions himself said that the real dispute center on the dissatisfaction of ten FBI employees who railroaded him.[4]

In 2018, Sessions filed for divorce after sixty-six years of marriage but dropped the suit on October 11, 2019.[6] Alice died two months thereafter at their home in Washington, D.C.[3]

Sessions died in June 2020 in San Antonio at the age of ninety.[4] Details of the burial were not announced,[3] but Alice was cremated.[8]


  1. Dr. William Anderson "Will" Sessions, Jr.. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on June 20, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Sessions, William Steele. Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved on June 20, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 John MacCormack (June 12, 2020). Bill Sessions: former prosecutor, judge and FBI director, dies at 90. The San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved on June 19, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 William Sessions, FBI head fired by President Clinton, dies. The Laredo Morning Times (June 13, 2020). Retrieved on June 20, 2020.
  5. William Steele Sessions. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on June 20, 2020.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Patrick Danner (October 25, 2019). Former FBI director, wife call off San Antonio divorce. The San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved on June 20, 2020.
  7. Time's Up for William Sessions. The New York Times (January 22, 1993). Retrieved on June 20, 2020.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Alice June Lewis Sessions. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on June 20, 2020.