One of Oklahoma’s most visible and respected attorneys and judges passed last week. Donald L. Worthington, the former district judge of Payne and Logan counties, was 95.
In 1987, Worthington was elected to the two counties, a position he held until his retirement in 2010. He was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma in 1997 to represent the Judiciary of the State on a Task Force of the Criminal Justice System dedicated to the improvement of the state criminal justice system.
In 2006 he received the Oklahoma Bar Association award of Judicial Excellence, and on June 29th of that year was inducted into the Stillwater Hall of Fame.
In 2013 the Supreme Court of Oklahoma bestowed upon him its award of Judicial Excellence for his leadership in establishing and maintaining the competence and integrity of the Oklahoma Court System.
In 2021 the Payne County Bar Association recognized his over 70-year service in the practice of law.
Worthington enlisted in the United States Army and served in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II in New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon, and Okinawa. At war’s end he was serving in the Philippine Islands headquarters of General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Pacific. He was awarded two battle stars for the Southern Philippines and Luzon campaigns, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon and one Bronze Star. He was present in General MacArthur’s office on Luzon and witnessed the arrival there of the Japanese emissaries to arrange surrender terms to end the war. He continued to serve in General MacArthur’s offices in Japan until his discharge from the army in June 1946. Throughout his life he remained a loyal supporter of General MacArthur and was quick to defend the general’s place in history against any would-be detractors.