Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Tap of the Gavel in Honor of Judge William J. Furber Jr. at his Retirement

The end of a year often brings with it some retirements in government and legal circles and none was more noticeable last week than that of Montgomery County President Judge William J. Furber Jr.

Photo of Portrait of Judge William J. Furber Jr.
Furber, 68, of Narberth, retired after more than 23 years on the county bench. Throughout his tenure, Furber was known for his leadership qualities and his reputation as a jurist was impeccable. Furber’s knowledge of the law, temperament and wisdom garnered much respect from colleagues and the lawyers who practiced in his courtroom. He was known as a true gentleman, a man who wore his signature bow tie to work on many days.

Having sat in his courtroom covering trials on many occasions, I was always struck by Furber’s fairness, courteousness, respectful tone and patience. I recall covering Furber’s Jan. 6, 2012, installation as president judge and I can say the judge certainly fulfilled the promises he made at that time.

“When it comes to courthouse culture, I am old school – courteousness, patience and respect and the willingness to listen are important traits for judges and lawyers alike. I believe in decorum. These courtrooms are sacred to me,” Furber told the crowd during a heartfelt speech in 2012. 

“You can have the greatest and most well-funded programs in the world, but if you don’t know how to bring out the best in people, with basic courtesy and respect, then the effort will fail,” Furber added.

I think those are powerful words to live by, for every judge.

A kind man, Furber always acknowledged the support he received from his wife, Welcome, his three sons and his courthouse family, administrative assistant Lois Joiner, court clerk Liz Oreo, court reporter Lisa Neal and court criers Bob Miller and Joe Wallen.

On Dec. 30, county Commissioner Joe Gale presented Judge Furber with a citation on behalf of the board of commissioners in recognition of his retirement and many years of service. The event was held prior to Veteran’s Treatment Court, which Furber presided over since its inception in 2011.

Screen shot of Commissioner Joe Gale's tribute to Furber via Twitter
“We, the Commissioners of Montgomery County, do hereby commend and congratulate the Honorable William J. Furber Jr. on the occasion of his retirement after many years of dedicated public service and express our gratitude for his exemplary service and contributions to the citizens of Montgomery County,” the citation read.  
Photo of Portrait of Judge William J. Furber Jr.


Furber, a graduate of the University of Maryland and Temple University School of Law who was elected to the bench in 1993 and who was retained in 2003 and 2013 for additional 10-year terms, beamed with pride during the event.  

Furber, who served in the Marine Corps, presided over the specialty court that was formed to enhance public safety and reduce recidivism rates among veterans who are charged with crimes. Under the program, veterans are connected with community treatment services through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs while receiving appropriate dispositions to their criminal charges.


During his time on the bench, Furber also presided over civil, family and criminal court. Prior to being elected a judge in 1993, Furber worked as a county prosecutor from 1974 to 1976 and then was a litigation specialist and partner with the Norristown firm Wilson, Drayer, Morrow and Furber from 1976 to 1991. In 1991, Furber became a sole practitioner with an office in Norristown.


So, as you leave the bench Judge Furber, I want to thank you for your many years of service and congratulate you on a retirement that is well earned. Enjoy! You will be missed around the county halls of justice.

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