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Judge William H. Kaye dies at 53

May 01, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Former Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge William H. Kaye, who resigned last fall for health reasons, died Monday morning at Penn Hall Nursing Center in Chambersburg.

"He was the epitome of what you would want a judge to be, and a man," said Kathy Barnhart, who worked for Kay from 1972 to last year, first in private practice and then when he became a judge.

Kaye, 53, of Chambersburg, was diagnosed with cancer in 1997. After nearly two years of surgeries and treatments, he announced last year that he was leaving the bench Sept. 30.

He is survived by his wife, Victoria, and two sons, David and Scott.

"That's all he wanted to be all his life was a judge. (Resigning) was a very difficult decision for him to make," Barnhart said.

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"He was always meticulous, easy to work with and scrupulously fair ... and a personal friend. I'll miss him," said Court Administrator William A. Sheaffer. "It's not an easy thing to understand or handle. This is sad for his family and the community. We lost a good person."

"I found Bill to be a very compassionate individual who was always concerned that he follow the law," said President Judge John R. Walker. "Bill took his job very conscientiously."

Kaye was appointed to the bench by then Gov. Robert Casey in 1987 when the Pennsylvania General Assembly created a third position in the 39th District of the Court of Common Pleas. Two years later he was elected to serve a 10-year term on the bench.

His term was set to expire at the end of 1999, when he could have run for retention. Instead he decided to resign, and Chambersburg attorney Carol Van Horn was elected in November to fill his seat on the bench.

"I knew Judge Kaye my entire life. As a young man, as a beginning lawyer and as a judge," Assistant District Attorney David W. Rahauser said.

The two men shared other things in common. Kaye defeated Rahauser in the 1989 election for judge and both had cancer. "We were ... treated by the same doctor at the same facility," Rahauser said.

"He was always a person of integrity who took his duties and responsibilities as a judge most seriously," he said.

Barnhart said her former boss put up a battle against his illness.

"Bill Kaye never gave up hope," she said. "I don't think you come much braver than that."

Arrangements by the Robert G. Sellers Funeral Home, Chambersburg, were incomplete Monday.

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