Memorial Bench Dedicated To Assistant Judge Wayne J. Heath
photo by Mike Cameron
Tuesday November 18, 2008
By Mike Cameron
Longtime Vermont State Trooper and Addison County Assistant Judge Wayne J. Heath, a 36-year law enforcement veteran, was given a permanent place of honor near the building where he presided as one of the counties most well liked and respected arbiters of the law.
Judge Heath suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack in September 2006. At the time of his death he was seeking another term to the elected position of side judge here in the county.
Attorney Peter F. Langrock, senior partner in the law firm of Langrock, Sperry and Wool LLP, spoke fondly of Judge Heath during the dedication ceremony on the grounds of the Judge Frank J. Mahady Court House in Middlebury during a 1 p.m. ceremony on Wednesday November 12, 2008, before a gathering of family members, friends, and many of Judge Heath’s former associates in the legal and law enforcement community.
Attorney Langrock remembered Judge Heath as a man who served his state, community and county as “a police officer who believed that the role of the police was to work for a better society. When he retired we offered him the job as an investigator for our firm, he accepted and I got to know him quite well during that period of time. We had a lot of fun and he chased down a lot of things for us. He became an important part of our office. When he decided that he wanted to run for side judge I said no, no!, we need you here!,” Langrock remembered with some animated mock gestures of resistance.
“But his commitment to public service was stronger,” Langrock went on to explain “and he served as a side judge for sixteen years. He brought a human touch to the bench. Down deep inside I think he was a very concerned and human person and he brought that to the bench as well as his experience and knowledge. He was here and was a part of the transition when this courthouse was built.
The wonderful lighting that we have in this court house has much to do with him. The side judges wanted a friendly warm and open place and included the bell from the old courthouse, which can be seen in the Superior Court lobby upstairs. During his career he at no time did anything but bring honor to the county, compassion to its people, and was a wonderful human being and the best thing that I can say about him was that he was my friend and I think everyone else who knew him can say that,” Peter Langrock concluded.
Former Vermont State Police colleagues remembered Judge Heath as an exceptional law enforcement officer mentor and role model. A score of active duty Vermont State Troopers, former troopers and members of the Addison County Sheriff’s Department turned out to be with the Heath family during the dedication ceremony and led everyone in a respectful round of applause for their honored comrade to conclude the ceremony.
It was a time of mixed emotions for members of the Heath family but they were more than justifiably proud of the fact that Judge Heath was given this special tribute by his peers.
At one point during the beginning of Peter Langrock’s dedication remarks, a police or ambulance siren, could be heard off in the distance. It was a fitting tribute to a career law enforcement officer who will always be remembered as a man who clearly understood what it means to “protect and serve.”
· From Addison County Clay To Illinois Black Dirt