byYork County Bar Association & Compiled by J. Ross McGinnis
Book Cover & Preview Text
JUDGE GORDON A. ROE – MAY 1986
PROCEEDINGS of the Bench and Bar of York County, Pennsylvania
Upon the Death of THE HONORABLE GORDON A. ROE, JUDGE
Tuesday, June 24, 1986
IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS of YORK COUNTY,
PENNSYLVANIA BEFORE THE HONORABLE RICHARD E. KOHLER, Senior Judge
THE HONORABLE JAMES E. BUCKINGHAM, Senior Judge
THE HONORABLE JOSEPH E. ERB, Judge
THE HONORABLE JOHN F. RAUHAUSER, JR., Judge
THE HONORABLE RICHARD H. HORN, Judge
PETER J. MANGAN, ESQUIRE:
May it please the Court, I rise with deep sadness to inform the Court of the death of one of our colleagues, The Honorable Gordon A. Roe, who died May 19, 1986. A minute shall be presented by his former partner, Robert J. Brown, Esquire.
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ROBERT J. BROWN, ESQUIRE:
Members of the Bar and friends, we meet to honor the memory of Judge Gordon A. Roe, a Judge of this Court, a member of this Bar and this Association, a worker in the community and a friend of us here today.
Gordon Adams Roe was born in Houston, Texas on July 21, 1944, the son of Warren Adams Roe and Janet Gordon Roe. His family later moved to Pennsylvania where he completed his high school education. In 1967, he graduated from Lafayette College.
Following his service in the United States Army as a First Lieutenant, Gordon entered the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, where he received his law degree in 1971.
Later, in 1979, he was to receive a Masters of Law in Taxation from Temple University.
Upon passing the bar exams in 1971, Gordon came to York County where he served as the first full-time law clerk to the Courts. In his private practice, he was first associated with the firm of Fluhrer, Medill & Shelley, and later began a partnership with Wayde Seidensticker.
In 1980, Gordon became an associate in our law firm of Kain, Brown & Roberts and later became a partner.
During his practice, Gordon also served in county and local governments as an assistant district attorney, attorney for York County Children and Youth Services and county solicitor, an office which he held for five years prior to his election to the Bench.
Upon assuming his Judgeship, Gordon served in the newly formed family court division. He approached this new position with dedication. Before taking on these responsibilities, he researched the law and visited other counties to observe how to manage this court.
In the few months he served as a judge, Gordon demonstrated patience and intelligence for the difficult task of presiding over a family court, a court which requires rulings affecting the close personal relationship of people, a court in which parties’ emotions often transcend any reason or respect for the law.
The few opinions published during his short tenure demonstrated his ability to apply his wisdom and knowledge of the law to such situations and indicated the caliber of what we could have expected of him as a judge for many years to come had he not been suddenly and unexpectedly taken from us.
Judge Roe’s achievements in his short life were not only in the law and courts.
For nine years, he served on the Board of Directors of the United Way of York. For seven years, he served as a member of the Board of Directors of York Transportation Club, as well as being active in the service of his church, Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
I also was impressed by the love and patriotism Gordon had for his country which was strong and genuine, but never became chauvinistic. He believed in his country and demonstrated this by his many years of service in the Pennsylvania National Guard in which he held the office of Lieutenant Colonel at the time of his death.
Thus, we see that Gordon Roe achieved much in his short life of only 41 years, but his achievements are not the only matters for which we remember him.
I had the privilege to practice with Gordon during the past six years until his election and installation as a judge of York County on January 6 of this year. During the time I was associated with him, I came to know Gordon through the daily contacts in our office. Our homes were only approximately a mile from each other, and on occasions, we would share rides to and from the office. These contacts let me learn to know Gordon as a concerned and caring person with enthusiasm to please the persons with whom he came in touch.
He was devoted to his family. His love for his wife, Denise, and his children, Melissa and Abigail, was complete and paramount to all other matters. Gordon was always cheerful. I don’t ever recall seeing him when he didn’t have a grin on his face. His attitude was positive.
He possessed a comprehension and thorough analysis of the facts and the law in his practice. On those occasions when I had to speak with him after he became a judge, I was impressed with his attitude and approach to this now career.
He felt an enormous responsibility for the authority and power he had as a judge to affect the lives and property of persons.
In early 1985, Gordon expressed to me his desire to run for judge. I remember the enthusiasm and hard work he undertook in personally contacting each committee person in the county in both the primary and general elections. His campaign encouraged and inspired many supporters on his behalf.
I recall mentioning to him during the campaigns that no matter where you went in York County, you would see a “Roe for Judge” sign. His long, hard work in the campaign was rewarded by his election to the Bench in November. We are thankful that Gordon was able to accomplish the goals he had set for himself.
His sudden and tragic death after such a short, promising career on the Bench was a shock and loss to the community. I first learned of Gordon’s accident the day after it happened. Like many others, I listened for news of his condition from time to time. I recall the disbelief I had when hearing of his death and realizing that my worst fears concerning him had occurred.
York County Bar Association & Compiled by J. Ross McGinnis
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About the Book
A compelling series of insightful biographical sketches of the men and women of the York County Bar commencing eleven years before the start of the Civil War as recounted by contemporaries and colleagues. Candid, sincere, honest, and on occasion with a touch of comic relief, these memorial minutes are tributes to those who have made their rendezvous with mortality.
Found within these volumes is the venerable Jeremiah S. Black who walked the corridors of national recognition during the Civil War era; the urbane and brilliant Herbert B. Cohen who wielded substantial political power throughout the commonwealth and rose to become an associate justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court; and the charismatic Harvey Gross whose superb advocacy in the third Hex trial and subsequent twenty-year tenure on the York County Orphans’ Court placed him in the forefront of the princes of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence.
This “callout” of the giants in no way diminishes the significance, commitment, and integrity of the many other remarkable individuals who came after and counseled and inspired others to live honestly, to exercise compassion, and to act with prudence and diligence, and above all else made their contribution to the vast and diverse panorama of our humanity.
Not a typical memoir or story, these memorial minutes constitute the defining epic of the York County Bar. More than history, more than recitals of character and personality, more than delightful encounters and more somber content, they are about individuals remembered for the richness and power of their hopes, achievements, and commitments to the timeless values of the life of the law.
About the Author
Compiled and forward by J. ROSS MCGINNIS. J. Ross McGinnis, attorney and author of “Trials of Hex,” was born in 1928 and was raised on a farm in southern York County. After graduating from Fawn Township Vocational High School in 1944, he attended York Collegiate Institute/York Junior College for one year. He then went to Princeton University, graduating in 1949 summa cum laude, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and awarded the Lawrence Hutton Prize in History, and was the co-recipient of the C.O. Jolene Prize in American Political History for his thesis on Henry Adams, the Sequence of the Democratic Force. He graduated from the Harvard Law School in 1952 and was given a direct commission in the U.S. Air Force. He became a staff judge advocate and, after two years, was discharged with the rank of Captain. Since 1954, he has been a practicing attorney in York County. He was President of the York County Bar, Moderator of Donegal Presbytery, and a life member of the Salvation Army. He is currently “of counsel” for the law firm of Stock and Leader in York, Pennsylvania.