Jack Gant, a former state legislator and longtime judge in Eastern Jackson County, died Sunday night. He was 90.

“Family was his No. 1 thing,” said his nephew, Mike Kirkham, a local attorney.

Gant, who grew up in Independence, served in the Marines shortly after World War II. He was in the State Senate as a Democrat for 10 years in the 1960s and ’70s, taking on such issues as opening the Little Blue River valley for development.

“He would reach across the aisle if it was right to do,” Kirkham said.

He later was named a Circuit Court judge by Gov. Christopher S. “Kit” Bond. Even after retirement in the late 1990s, he took on senior status and still heard some cases. He also worked as a mediator.

Kirkham described him as “just a friend to all” and acknowledged his uncle’s influence on the community over the years – and on himself.

“He was my mentor,” he said. “I’m an attorney because of him.”