Former judge honored with portrait

Jenny Lancour | Daily Press A portrait of Judge Stephen Davis, who retired nearly eight months ago, is displayed following a ceremony in Delta County Circuit Court on Wednesday while Davis, standing at right, poses for a photograph with current Judge John Economopoulos, standing at left, and retired Judge Dean Shipman, seated.

ESCANABA — A courtroom ceremony on Wednesday, honoring the retirement of Delta County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Davis with a framed portrait, signified a final closure of his 23-year career on the bench.

“Today’s ceremony brings an unexpected closure for me,” said Davis, 70, as he commented on the community tradition that honors retired judges with a portrait to be displayed alongside the 47th Judicial Circuit Court’s past judges.

Davis thanked everyone attending the afternoon ceremony, which he described as a very humbling honor. He added that he enjoyed his term, but it’s now done and it’s time to move on to the next page in his life — enjoying his retirement by spending time with his wife, Carol, and their family.

Davis noted he and his wife celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary earlier this week. Half of that time, he served as the county’s 11th circuit court judge in thousands of civil and criminal cases.

Davis commented the judicial system is “alive and well’ in Delta County, where the courts are committed to justice and serving the public.

Davis’ predecessor, retired Judge Dean Shipman, 85, participated in the portrait ceremony, reflecting on his own 29-year judgeship. He recalled designing the current courtroom, being threatened to be shot by a notorious drunk, and obtaining a pistol permit.

He also spoke about his medically-taxing retirement that included him learning to walk all over again following a stroke during a physical at Mayo.

“I told them, ‘If you don’t send me a bill, I won’t sue you,'” Shipman said, noting he never received any bill.

Davis’ successor, current Judge John Economopoulos, noted that each judge’s portrait displayed on the courtroom walls depicts a moment frozen in time and, more importantly, represents the years each judge served on the bench, including Davis’ term from 1994-2017.

Davis is a native of Escanaba where he graduated from high school in 1965 and attended Bay de Noc Community College for two years. After earning an undergraduate degree in history and English from Western Michigan University, he graduated from law school at Valparaiso University in 1973 and was admitted to the Bar that same year. He served his entire law career in Escanaba.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,