On Friday, 225 community members gathered at the Maronite Center in Austintown to celebrate the retirement of Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr.
Douglas, a Youngstown State University alumnus and limited service faculty member, officially retired from the Youngstown Municipal Court over the summer.
“All of my longtime friends were there, and I was very thankful they were able to attend,” Douglas said.
Delores Crawford, a member of the YSU Board of Trustees, said she grew up with Douglas on the South Side of Youngstown.
Crawford said the dinner was very well attended.
“We were all there to support him,” Crawford said. “It was a very nice evening.”
Crawford said she was part of the planning committee, along with Douglas’ stepdaughter.
“We celebrated his accomplishments,” Crawford said. “He deserves all we can do.”
Douglas went to YSU on a basketball scholarship in 1958. He then left school to join the U.S. Army for three years, and later received his bachelor’s degree from YSU in 1966.
He received his master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh in 1970, then earned his law degree from the University of Akron in 1978.
Afterward, he worked for various agencies, including Mahoning County Job and Family Services. Douglas was also a member of various boards, such as Gateways to Better Living and the United Way.
He served as president of the board of trustees for the Youngstown Community Health Center and the Northeast Ohio Adoption Services.
Norma Marzano, a former bailiff, worked for Douglas for 10 years and retired in 2008.
“He is a sweetheart, and everything he got he worked for,” Marzano said. “His father died when he was 4 years old, and his mother basically raised him. He genuinely cares about people. He really does. He probably was one of the fairest judges I’ve ever seen in my life.”
John Spivey, Douglas’ most recent bailiff, said Douglas knew how to treat people with dignity.
“He was fair and had compassion,” Spivey said. “He had an effect on people because of his social work background. … Just because he was in the court system, he was still a human being.”
Spivey was attending Cleveland State University when he met Douglas. He had just lost his job at Forum Health, and Douglas encouraged him to finish his degree.
“He’s all about higher education,” Spivey said.
Douglas said one of his most rewarding accomplishments was redistricting in a voting rights lawsuit: Armour vs. State of Ohio. He also is proud of co-founding a radio station, WRBP.
“I am also proud of becoming a judge at the end of my career,” he said. “I was retired and a vacancy came out, and I was fortunate enough to be sought after for the position.”