In September Athens County mourned the death of long-time Judge Robert Stewart, who died on Sept. 12.
Stewart, 70, was in his 18th year as the Athens County Court of Common Pleas, Probate/Juvenile Judge. In 2015 Stewart was awarded the Wiseman Award by the LWVAC. The award was in recognition of “his deep commitment to the welfare of the children of Athens county.”
Stewart’s career in Athens County began long before he started as Probate Juvenile Court Judge in 2003. He previously served as a magistrate in the probate/juvenile section of the Athens County Common Please Court. He was elected to the Judge position following the retirement of Judge Edward Robe.
2020 was meant to be Stewart’s last year in the position. Candidates Kenneth E. Ryan (R) and Zachary L. Saunders (D) vied for the seat in the Nov. 3 election, with Saunders winning with 12,561 votes, or 60.6%, Ryan received 8,165 votes, or 39.4%.
In September the two candidates participated in a virtual forum, just days after Stewart’s death.
Forum moderator Tanya Conrath began the evening by honoring the late judge.
“I want to acknowledge the recent passing of Judge Robert ‘Bob’ Stewart,” Conrath said. “He would’ve handed the baton to one of the candidates tonight. Judge Stewart treated those who entered his court with dignity and humanity. He was held in the highest esteem by the legal community and the Athens community.”
In opening remarks, Saunders extended his condolences to the Stewart family, stating that he was a pillar in the Athens Community.
“He was a good human and even a better family man. He was a judge that I will strive to be,” Saunders said.
To fill the vacant seat, Gov. Mike DeWine appointed Ryan to the position following the recommendation of the Athens County Republican Central Committee. Ryan assumed the office on Oct. 13.