November 19, 2012 in City

Longtime Spokane County judge dies

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Judge Robert Austin, shown here in his jury room at Spokane County Courthouse.
(Full-size photo)

Longtime local judge Robert Austin, who retired from Spokane Superior Court at the end of 2008, died today following an aortic aneurysm on Saturday. He was 68.

Austin’s wife, Robin, said he was watching a Gonzaga Prep football game Saturday when he called to say something was wrong.

“He had a pain and he called me to bring him an aspirin. I called 9-1-1,” she said.

Medical personnel rushed Austin to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center where he died this afternoon.

Fellow retired judge Jim Murphy visited his longtime friend just hours before he died.

“I am very, very sad with the passing of a dear friend and a great guy,” Murphy said. “I’m happy he was able to go relatively pain free and quickly.”

Austin served as Spokane County Superior Court Judge from 1988 to 2008. He also worked several years before that as a court commissioner.

“He had well over 25 years of service to the people of this community,” Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza said. “He always had a very human touch and a lot of empathy for the people who came before him. He was a wonderful guy to work with.

“Certainly, we express our deep condolences to his family.”

Robin Austin said the family continues to finalize details for the services.

“I have a whole personal memorial that I would like to write for him,” she said.

Austin leaves a daughter, Jenny, and sons Marc, David and Derek from a previous marriage. He also leaves step-daughter Amanda Nolan from his 10-year marriage to Robin.

Murphy said he became friends with Austin as they were both attending law school at Gonzaga in the early 1970s. Austin became so enamored following a trip to Ireland that he recently sought and obtained dual citizenship.

“He was an outdoor enthusiast. He loved to hunt, fish, play golf,” Murphy said. “For a guy like that, something this sudden probably is not all that bad. He will be missed.”

Kim Kilham worked for about a decade for Austin, including as his judicial assistant up to the time he retired.

“He was very well respected and he cherished his family,” Kilham said.


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