Former Grays Harbor Superior Court Judge David Foscue died Monday night, the result of “an acute illness compounded by pulmonary complications,” according to a family statement.
A resident of Montesano, he was a former Aberdeen city attorney and served on the bench from 1986 until his retirement in 2008.
Superior Court Judge David L. Edwards, who was appointed by then Gov. Christine Gregoire to the bench after Foscue’s retirement, remembers Foscue as a man who touched many lives, in and out of the courtroom.
“I think I can speak for everyone who knew him that he was an outstanding judge and, even more, a remarkable human being,” said Edwards. “He was special.”
Foscue was very active with Arc, an association that promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“When I first met him in 1974 he was very active (in the association) and continued to be involved with that group, advocating for the rights of people with mental challenges, for his entire life,” said Edwards.
Foscue managed to balance the pressures of his judicial duties with his family and drive to serve his community.
“With a young family and children involved in sports, he spent his weeknights and weekends umpiring softball and coaching soccer,” said a statement submitted by his son, Matt Foscue.
“He did things that not many knew about,” said Edwards. “He participated in a literacy program. He would take a lunch break from the courthouse and go to teach people to read who couldn’t.
“And he did all that while maintaining a very strong presence in the court. He was in charge of what was going on up here. He did a great job of administrating justice in this county for many years.”
Foscue received a Judge of the Year award from The American Board of Trial Advocates, among numerous other awards, and was a member of the Washington State Bar Association for more than 50 years.
Foscue loved to travel and was very active in Aberdeen’s Driftwood Players, taking the stage in numerous productions through his years of involvement.
“Less than a month prior to his passing, David was with his family traveling in the Sultanate of Oman reading a book on the physics of everyday life and studying his lines for the next Driftwood play,” said the family statement.
When his family took to horses as its main recreational activity, Foscue took on a supporting role by judging horse events and developing his photography skills. His family described Foscue as “a reluctant horseman as he had always been uncomfortable around them,” but his determination and natural curiosity won over and he discovered he loved trail riding.
“His life consisted of always getting ready for the next adventure, and his adventures were completely different from any of my adventures. He did remarkable things,” said Edwards. “He rode a horse the entire length of the Pacific Crest Trail.”
That’s right, the entire length, all 2,650 miles of it, running from Mexico to California, Oregon, Washington and into Canada, with Stub, his trusty Tennessee Walker, and an ornery but loyal mule named Ernie.
“He conquered the trail over a period of nine years, meticulously planning and studying his route during the entire year leading up to his vacation. After completion of the trail, he made a series of presentations sharing his spectacular photos and experiences of the trip. He eventually came to serve as both President and board member of the Pacific Crest Trail Association,” read the family’s statement.
He was a motorcycle rider as well, taking trips clear down to Central America, said Edwards.
“At the age of 60, David and (wife) Ellen learned to ride motorcycles and soon embarked on a spectacular series of motorcycle trips taking them to Alaska, Mexico, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Japan,” read the family’s statement. “After motorcycles, the world travel continued and even included getting stranded on a ship in the Arctic Ocean.”
On Tuesday, Grays Harbor County commissioners observed a moment of silence in honor of Foscue, and the flags at county buildings were ordered to half-staff. A celebration of life is scheduled at the Rotary Log Pavilion in Aberdeen Feb. 15, 1-4 p.m.
Foscue is survived by his wife, Ellen, two sisters, Janice and Audrey, two daughters, a son, two grandsons and one great-granddaughter.
Foscue was born in 1944 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The family moved around the U.S. as his father’s work dictated, living in Iowa, Texas, Massachusetts, Illinois and Michigan. After graduating high school from Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, he attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, where he met his future wife, Ellen Stalnaker. After graduating from college, the young couple moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where David attended Duke University Law School while Ellen pursed her graduate degree at the University of North Carolina.
With a law degree fresh in hand, Foscue was persuaded by his parents to interview for jobs in the state of Washington. Enthralled by the mountains and big trees, he took a position at the law firm of Schumacher and Charette in Aberdeen. After a few years, Foscue moved to the Grays Harbor County Prosecutors Office, then he became city attorney for the City of Aberdeen. He was appointed to a vacancy on the Superior Court by Gov. Booth Gardner in 1986.