Former District Court Judge Mike Roewe, 73, Remembered as Mentor, Community Servant


By The Chronicle staff

This week, the community mourns former Lewis County District Court judge and notable volunteer Mike Roewe, whose death was announced on Monday.

Roewe’s brother, David Roewe, first posted news of the death to a Facebook group on May 17. “Our community has lost one of it's special people with the passing of Mike Roewe,” David wrote in the post. “He spent his entire life serving his community and his Faith. Rest in Peace my Brother.”

In the week since the news was announced, David Roewe’s post has been flooded with nearly 200 comments of Chehalis community members offering their condolences and heartfelt messages about Mike Roewe’s impact on their lives. 

Roewe was admitted as an attorney in 1975 and worked as a civil attorney for 16 years and as a Chehalis Municipal Court judge for four years before he was first elected as a Lewis County District Court judge in 1990.

“Judge Roewe was a mentor to me not only as a judge, but also as human,” said District Court Judge R.W. Buzzard, who was first elected to the bench in 2004 and worked alongside Roewe until Roewe’s retirement. “I am sure you will hear thousands of stories of the incredible community minded man he was. He was equally amazing as a judge … He was firm, patient and always fair, to whomever appeared before him … He will be greatly missed by myself and many others.”

Roewe served on the bench for 25 years before he retired in 2015. He was replaced in District Court by Judge Wade S. Samuelson.

“When I told him that I intended to run for his vacant seat, he laughed and said something to the effect of, ‘Well, good for you! May God help you — you’ll need it every day,’” said Samuelson. “I wasn’t really certain what he meant at the time, but all these years later, I think I understand.”

The first court appearance of Samuelson’s career was in front of Roewe in 1996. 

“I still remember that he was kind to me, but that his deep, booming voice scared me to death,” said Samuelson.

“Over the next 18 years, I made many more appearances in his court and always found him to be firm, yet fair as a judge,” he said. “You could always tell that he wanted to make the correct decision. He was the consummate professional no matter what type of case was before him.”

After his retirement from the bench in 2015, Roewe worked as an estate planning and probate attorney at the firm Hillier, Scheibmeir, Kelly & Satterfield, P.S., in Chehalis.

In the community, Roewe has served on the boards of many organizations such as the Visiting Nurses, the Greater Chehalis Food Bank, the HOPE Alliance and Lewis County Work Opportunities. He was also active in the Boy Scouts program and the service club Sertom.

He was also known for decades of work in his parish, St. Joseph’s in Chehalis.

Service information has not yet been announced.