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Retired judge Robert Austin dies


Longtime local judge Robert Austin, who retired from Spokane Superior Court at the end of 2008, died Monday 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 911,” she said.

Medical personnel rushed Austin to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center where he died Monday 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 services.

Austin leaves a daughter, Jenny, and sons Marc, David and Derek from a previous marriage. He also leaves stepdaughter 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 University in the early 1970s. Austin became so enamored following a trip to Ireland that he 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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