Judge Edward R. Karazin, Jr. is one of 12 men and women to be inducted into the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame this year.
That’s just the latest honor for the longtime Westporter (and 1957 Staples High School graduate). In her nominating letter to the Hall of Fame, his daughter Deborah Owens writes:
My father and mother were married on May 8, 1965. The newlyweds expected to spend my father’s 2 years in the Army in Georgia at Fort Gordon, where my father would serve as a civil affairs officer.
The war in Vietnam changed all that. In November of 1965 he was sent to Vietnam for a 1-year tour of duty as a civil affairs officer working the Pacification Program in Quang Tin Province as a MACV advisor.
He served with distinction, and upon discharge he was presented with the Bronze Star. The Vietnamese government also awarded him the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross.
After his return to he civilian world, my father immersed himself in his 2 other passions: the law and his family. He started his career in Westport, serving as an assistant prosecuting attorney for the State of Connecticut.
Over the next 2 decades he did trial work as an attorney, helping clients in civil cases and family law matters.
In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s VFW Post 399 on Riverside Avenue undertook major renovations. Improvements included new docks for boats on the river and a new brick addition. My father did much of the legal work pro bono. It included land use work with the town, review of contracts, and preparation and review of many other documents.
The VFW was so appreciative that he was given a lifetime VFW membership! As an aside, I had my “Sweet 16 Party” in the renovated party room.
In 1990 my father was nominated to a state Superior Court judgeship by Governor O’Neill. He accepted with honor, and served in that role until becoming a judge trial referee in 2010.
He has not only served justice traditionally, but has given his time to others in many additional ways. He has spoken on panels about law and justice, served on the Ethics Commission, led the Veterans Day ceremony at the courthouse and even come to my children’s schools to talk about law, military service and honor. He helped my son’s Cub Scout pack achieve a badge by telling them about the branches of the government and the importance of democracy.
As chief administrative judge, my father undertook the daunting task of opening the new courthouse in Stamford. Under his leadership, everything and everyone moved successfully from the old facility to the new one.
My father never tires of working, sharing stories, and engaging with others. Even now at 80, he continues to work as a judge trial referee in Stamford. (His court is temporarily closed due to COVID.) Last year he was honored by the Fairfield County Bar Association with the Robert J. Callahan Judiciary Award. It recognizes dedication to the highest professional ideals, and long-term conscientious service to the community as a judge.
My father was born the son of a home maintenance man who eventually ran his own small business on the Post Road, and a homemaker. He went all through the Westport school system, including Greens Farms Elementary School, Bedford Junior High and Staples.
He was the first in his family to go to college. After earning a BA from Boston College in 1961, he headed straight to law school. He graduated from Fordham University in 1964. He was also commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Army in 1961, which began his military career.
My brothers Edward and Michael and l went through the Westport public school system. We were fortunate to have our dad working locally so he could coach our Little League teams, play lawn darts, take us to BC football games, and host backyard barbeques for his Vietnam veteran buddies.
My father was a dedicated volunteer who helped shape our community. Our garage overflowed with equipment for the town’s baseball teams. His many, many volunteer positions (including Board of Finance), civic engagements, awards and organizational affiliations are important, but the bottom line is that my father was (and still is) busy, and the majority of what he did (and does) is for the good of others: his family, town, state and country.
My father’s community-minded spirit led me into a life of law and volunteerism as well. Both of my brothers are also active members of their communities, and all-around good citizens. After too many Sunday night dinners with “Grandpa” to count, both of my college-aged children are considering future lives of service as well.
My father’s favorite game — “What Would the Judge Do?” — helped my children develop critical thinking skills, and showed them there are always many sides to any given issue.
From his days as a young government lawyer and his service in Vietnam to his never-ending devotion to his family and community, my father, Judge Karazin, has served his country, his state, his community, and his society as a whole with honor, integrity and selflessness.
His story is one that would inspire others. It reflects highly upon the State of Connecticut, its public schools, and its people. Judge Karazin would be a wonderful addition to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame.
Congratulations, Judge Edward Karazin, on your latest honors: Selection to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, and “06880” Unsung Hero of the Week!
(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email email@example.com)