By RYAN DUNN
Judge Robert D. Walker offered more than a sentence to Findlay Municipal Court defendants most in need of direction.
Walker asked “lost souls” facing misdemeanors and lacking job prospects to speak with the assistant prosecutor, Dan Snyder, about joining the military, Snyder said.
At least a dozen people enlisted at the suggestion of Walker, a U.S. Army colonel. Most returned to share their gratitude for the assistance, he said.
“Putting them in the service made men out of them and made a difference in their lives,” Snyder said.
Hancock County on Sunday lost another prominent former judge with Walker’s death. Colleagues praised the 89-year-old Findlay resident for his intellect and championing of legal education.
Walker was born in 1925 in western Pennsylvania. He graduated from what was then Findlay College in 1949 before obtaining his law degree from Ohio Northern University.
He always felt accepted in Hancock County, said his son, Steve Walker.
Robert Walker was elected Findlay Municipal Court judge in the early 1970s before becoming a judge in the Hancock County Common Pleas Court in 1976. He presided there until retiring in 1988, his son said.
Judge Walker was driven by a love for judicial responsibility, Steve Walker said.
“He was just a take-charge kind of guy,” his son said.
Steve Walker described his father as occasionally working long hours between legal and military service, but that he was “about as fair with us as those people in his courtroom.”
Practicing law in front of Judge Walker was a pleasure because of his forthrightness and prompt decisions, Snyder said.
The two knew each other while both serving in the Ohio Army National Guard. There, Walker was a talented inspector who treated others equally, Snyder said.
“He was a great soldier and a great veteran,” Snyder said.
Walker’s sense of decorum extended to the courtroom as well.
Male defendants who ignored his dress code of a suit and tie were in for a surprise. Walker kept an ugly jacket in his office for just that occasion, said Deborah Ward, librarian with the Hancock County Law Library.
Walker was also instrumental in bringing legal seminars to area attorneys, said Ward.
His brown bag lunch events would address a new law or important skill Walker saw missing in lawyers, she said.
“Rather than calling out the attorneys in court, he’d offer a seminar,” Ward said.
Walker was president of the Hancock County Law Library Association from 1974 to 1988.
Walker was a fascinating man who could speak thoroughly on myriad topics, said Judge Allan Davis of Hancock County Probate/Juvenile Court.
He ran an efficient docket, Davis said.
“Boy, if your case was assigned to Judge Walker, you didn’t have to wait long for a hearing,” Davis said.
Judge Davis said Walker’s death was among several significant losses recently for the Findlay/Hancock County Bar Association.
Three other prominent members, Judge Joe Moorhead, Judge Richard Rinebolt and attorney Ralph Russo, have died since March.
Walker’s funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at College First Church of God, Findlay. His full obituary is included on page A5.