Three inches of snow on the ground in Cumberland, Md., prevented the judges from Allegany and Garrett counties from attending.
Beachley and Washington County State's Attorney M. Kenneth Long Jr. were the only finalists recommended to the governor by the Judicial Nominating Commission of Washington County.
Beachley, 40, will fill the $96,500-per-year post but must run in the 1998 county election to secure a full 15-year term.
Judge Kennedy Boone, also a recent appointee, also will stand for election in less than one year.
Beachley, a Myersville, Md., native, graduated from Hood College at age 20 and earned his law degree at the University of Maryland Law School at age 23.
A Hagerstown attorney since 1980, Beachley is a partner in the firm Miller, Oliver, Beachley and Stone. He also has been a U.S. magistrate/judge for almost four years.
"Fully half of your circuit judges are now former U.S. magistrate/judges," said Judge Daniel Klein of the U.S. District Magistrate Court of Maryland. "We can train 'em but we can't keep 'em."
Circuit Court Judge John H. McDowell also was a former U.S. magistrate/judge.
Speaking for the Washington County Bar Association, attorney Lynn Williams said Beachley's elevation is bittersweet for local lawyers.
"We are saddened at losing one of our finest trial judges but honored that you are to be judge," Williams said.
Kent Oliver, soon to be Beachley's former law partner, choked back emotion as he bid farewell to his friend.
"Domestic law was Don's specialty,'' Oliver said. "It takes a special advocate to handle cases like that, but Don was steadfast and diligent.''
Presiding Judge Frederick C. Wright III quoted Yogi Berra in welcoming Beachley to the bench.
"It's deja vu all over again," Wright said, noting Beachley's was the sixth investiture over which he has presided since becoming chief judge of the Fourth Circuit of Maryland in 1983.
"You bring youth and experience and overall knowledge and you bring all these to a very busy court," Wright said.
He said Washington County now is up to full strength again at four judges.
"We are very efficient and we work hard," Wright said. He credited much of the efficiency to the Washington County support staff, which he said is the backbone of the courts.
Operating short-handed for much of the past year has taken its toll on the docket, Wright said. Both retired judges Daniel Moylan and Glaser have been hearing cases on a part-time basis, but neither will be available after Dec. 31, he said.
In his comments, Beachley thanked his colleagues, his friends and his family.
His most poignant remarks were about his mother, Dorothy, who died four years ago.
"I was born on my mother's birthday," Beachley said. "She was the one who gave me the confidence to dream and to try things ... she was my loving safety net."