Delaware County’s three commissioners honored former Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Henry E. Shaw Jr. Thursday when they dedicated their meeting room to him.
The announcement came as a surprise to Shaw, who was under the impression he was attending the meeting because the commissioners were receiving an award for the renovations done at the Historic Courthouse.
“Oh, for Pete’s sakes!” Shaw exclaimed when Delaware County Board of Commissioners President Gary Merrell told Shaw the proclamation and dedication at Thursday’s meeting actually had to do with him.
Merrell said Shaw started serving the county in 1968 as a prosecutor before becoming the Delaware County prosecutor in 1970, a role he served in until becoming a common pleas court judge in 1976. Merrell said Shaw’s tenure as judge lasted from 1976 to 2003, and Shaw is the longest serving General Division Common Pleas Court judge in the county’s history. Merrell also praised Shaw for his dedication to local history, adding Shaw deserved to be recognized.
Merrell said it was “both an honor and privilege” to dedicate the hearing room, which used to serve as Shaw’s courtroom, to the former judge.
“It’s been a pleasure and honor to get to know you,” Merrell said. “I have the highest respect for you and your compassion and commitment to this county in so many forms.”
Commissioner Jeff Benton said Shaw is the county’s “most respected” judge, and the dedication was “so well-deserved.”
Commissioner Barb Lewis said the room’s dedication will be part of Shaw’s legacy in the county.
The dedication was attended by Shaw’s family, former and current local judges, and many local attorneys and court officials.
Lewis read a speech from Delaware County Juvenile and Probate Court Judge David Hejmanowski, who was unable to attend the event.
“I can’t think of a more fitting tribute than naming this room, where you spent so many years presiding justly over so many cases and served as an inspiration and as a mentor to so many lawyers, in your honor,” Hejmanowski said.
Hejmanowski compared Shaw’s legacy to that of coaching trees in professional sports, adding Shaw inspired many judges, attorneys and other court officials, including Hejmanowski.
Hejmanowski wrote that an attorney once told him that practicing law in Hejmanowski’s courtroom “felt an awful lot like practicing in front of Judge Shaw.”
“I told her that was biggest compliment that anyone could pay a judicial official,” Hejmanowski said. “Your name will live on in this room for generations.”
Ohio Attorney General David Yost was one of the attendees of the event and told Shaw that the dedication was well-deserved.
“Judge Shaw, a fitting recognition of your long service in the same direction in this community,” Yost said. “I’m glad that even though the purpose of this room has changed, that you’re being honored. Like so many other lawyers in here, I’m grateful for the experience I had learning to practice law under your direct and tough tutelage.”
Randy Ormeroid, the facilities maintenance coordinator for the county, said he enjoyed working with Shaw and called him “an institution.”
Local attorney Tony Heald said everyone who came into Shaw’s courtroom left with the sense that Shaw was going to be a fair judge in their case.
Shaw spoke at the ceremony, where he took a moment to reminisce.
“It was fun working here,” Shaw said. “(I have) nothing but good memories. … From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank every last one of you for being here this morning for extending me the friendship, courtesy, and fun over the years. It’s been a pleasure to serve you, and frankly, I wish I was here.”
A plaque dedicated to Shaw can be seen outside the Delaware County Board of Commissioners’ meeting room on the second floor of the Historic Courthouse, located at 91 N. Sandusky St. in Delaware.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.