In Memoriam Warren Keith Urbom 8/4/17 08/06/17 11:32:23 AM
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Warren Keith Urbom
Dec. 17, 1925 – July 28, 2017
The year was 1970. Warren Burger had just succeeded Earl Warren at Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, appointed by President Richard Nixon.
In Nebraska, on April 24, 1970, 45-year-old Warren K. Urbom, also nominated by President Nixon, took his place on the bench of the U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska, succeeding Robert Van Pelt. He had already racked up a successful career as a trial attorney at the law firm of Baylor Evnen Baylor & Urbom.
Generations benefited from the wisdom of Judge Urbom for the next 44 years, until his retirement on April 24, 2014.
Urbom died last week at the age of 91, and once again, accolades were heaped upon him, just as they had been at his retirement.
As the Lincoln Journal Star reported, “When he retired in 2014, former Nebraska Gov. Bob Kerrey said, ‘No one has meted out justice with more wisdom, wit and seriousness of purpose.’”
The Daily Record reported on his retirement and quoted Omaha trial attorney Dave Domina as saying, “My first real memory of appearing in front of him was a dispute between two rural landowners. I remember how gentlemanly he was with both of them and how he calmed them down.”
Domina said he felt Urbom was able to “make people feel like respect was in order, was always calm, and prepared well for court.”
“The loser always felt heard,” Domina said. “He was just a model judge. He deserves every kind comment people will make about him.”
U.S. District Court Judge Lyle Strom has a long history with his friend and colleague. When Strom assumed the federal bench in 1985, Urbom administered the oath of office.
In a Daily Record article in 2014, Strom recalled their early interaction, when Strom was a trial lawyer (both men were inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers): “He was one of the finest judges I ever appeared before. He was maybe better prepared than you were. He was very studious. He was very thoughtful.”
This week, Strom said, “Judge Urbom set the standard for all United States district judges. He will be missed.”
Chief U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp, echoed Strom, saying, “Judge Warren Urbom was a mentor of the highest quality for law students, lawyers and fellow judges. Those who were privileged to try cases in Judge Urbom’s court were assured a fair proceeding and also received an education in trial practice, civility and ethics.
“He was revered for his intellect, eloquence, integrity, humility and kindness. Within the federal court family, Judge Urbom was beloved. We miss him deeply and we will do our best to ensure his legacy endures,” Smith Camp said.
An entry the Omaha World Herald’s Public Pulse this week summed it up:
“With the death of Warren K. Urbom, we have lost not only a distinguished judge, but also a paragon of decency, fairness and humanity.
“In his extraordinary career as a jurist, his life as an exceptional citizen, and his role as a friend of education, Judge Urbom was an exemplar of integrity, kindness and what it means to be a gentleman.” of Trustees and Life Governor. He was also an adjunct instructor in trial advocacy at the University of Nebraska College of Law for 11 years.
Urbom’s wife of 58 years, Joyce Crawford Urbom, died in 2010. Survivors include daughters Kim Rager, Allison Raich and Joy Taylor, son Randall, 12 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and his brother Ward. Taylor and Randall followed in their father’s footsteps, becoming attorneys.
Urbom and his wife were very involved in their church, Trinity United Methodist in Lincoln, for more than 50 years. At one time he had considered becoming a minister.
His memorial service was held there on Tuesday.
– By Lorraine Boyd