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U.S. District Judge Broadwater dies at Pittsburgh hospital

December 20, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - U.S. District Judge W. Craig Broadwater died Monday night at a Pittsburgh hospital where he was being treated for cancer, a federal court official said Tuesday.

He was 56.

Broadwater died at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center of complications from cancer, said Bill Hinerman, chief deputy clerk for the Northern District.

Broadwater served in the Northern District of West Virginia in Martinsburg after he was appointed by President Clinton 10 years ago. He assumed the office Sept. 3, 1996, officials said. Broadwater was a brigadier general in the Army National Guard and a veteran of the U.S. Army.

"It is a true loss to the judiciary," said Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Jean Games-Neely, who knew Broadwater since the early 1980s when she was a defense attorney in private practice in the Northern Panhandle and he was a state judge for the 1st Judicial Circuit. The circuit includes Brooke, Hancock and Ohio counties.

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"He was always fair. He was always up front," Games-Neely said. "It's a true loss to those of us who practiced with him. This was very sudden."

23rd Judicial Circuit chief Judge Gray Silver III learned of Broadwater's illness in recent weeks, but didn't know the extent of his condition.

Sources said Broadwater was diagnosed late last month and though he had abandoned his routine of jogging near his home, many in the legal community said Tuesday they believed he would recover.

"Judge Broadwater was a true gentleman," Silver said. "I admired him for his public service. He went about helping others quietly while not seeking recognition for himself."

"He was a great help to me," said Silver, noting several times when Broadwater made federal courtrooms available for Silver's use before the opening of the Berkeley County Judicial Center.

"Everybody is kind of in shock right now," a court security officer staffing the U.S. Courthouse in Martinsburg said Tuesday as officials met privately there to determine how to proceed in the interim.

Erin Reisenweber, deputy in charge of the U.S. Clerk's office in Martinsburg and a former law clerk for Broadwater, said the judge had "many facets," loved Shakespeare, West Virginia University football games and movies.

"If there was a new movie out, he ... saw it," Reisenweber said.

Broadwater was born Aug. 8, 1950, in Elk City, Okla. He was a son of W.C. and Reta Stansberry Broadwater.

Broadwater previously served as a special prosecutor in Ohio County and as a former chief judge in the state's 1st Circuit.

"West Virginia has lost a great judge, a true patriot and a remarkable man," said U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who as governor appointed Broadwater to the Ohio County Circuit Court. "He was someone who truly understood the unique role that courts play in the daily lives of West Virginians, particularly children and families."

Broadwater received his undergraduate and law degrees from West Virginia University.

In 2002, after being appointed to oversee a homeland security training facility in Preston County as part of his National Guard service, Broadwater said he never planned to be a judge after graduating from WVU in 1977, let alone rising to the rank of brigadier general.

"Upon leaving WVU, I thought attaining the rank of captain would have been the high point of my career," he said at the time.

Broadwater is survived by his wife, Chong, daughters Taeja and Chandra, and son Shane.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Brown Funeral Home in Martinsburg, but were incomplete at presstime.

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