Chief Justice Joseph R. Weisberger

Date of Passing:

December 7, 2012

Weisberger, Joseph, R., 92, of Winthrop Street, Riverside, died unexpectedly on December 7, 2012 at Rhode Island Hospital. He was the beloved husband of Sylvia (Pigeon) Weisberger.

Born in Providence, a son of the late Samuel J. and Ann Elizabeth (Meighan) Weisberger, he lived in Riverside for 56 years.

Chief Justice Weisberger served the Rhode Island Judiciary for 56 years on two of our State Courts. An internationally renowned jurist, Justice Weisberger was initially appointed to the Rhode Island Superior Court in 1956 and served on that Court through 1978. He served as the Presiding Justice of the Superior Court from 1972 to 1978. Justice Weisberger was elevated to the Rhode Island Supreme Court as an Associate Justice, serving in that capacity from 1978 through 1993. From August of 1993 to March of 1995, Justice Weisberger served as the Acting Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. In March of 1995, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and served in that capacity through February of 2001. Upon his retirement, Chief Justice Weisberger remained active on the bench serving as a Justice under the statutory provisions of judicial recall. In addition, he helped spearhead the Supreme Court Appellate Mediation Unit.

Chief Justice Weisberger graduated from Brown University Magna Cum Laude and Harvard University School of Law. He was past President Phi Beta Kappa (R.I. Alpha), past Chairman Appellate Judges Conference ABA, past Chairman National Conference State Trial Judges, past Member House of Delegates of the ABA, a past Member Council of Judicial Administration Division, ABA, a member of American Law Institute, a life Fellow American Bar Foundation, a past Member of the Board of Directors National Center for State Courts, a faculty member National Judicial College from 1966-present, a recipient of the Erwin Griswold Award for Excellence in Teaching National Judicial College 1989, a recipient of the Herbert Harley Award American Judicature Society 1989, a recipient of the Goodrich Award for Service to Rhode Island Taxpayers ‘R.I. Public Expenditure Council’ 1995, a member of the Education Committee of Appellate Judges Conference, and a past member Senior Faculty N.Y.U. Appellate Seminar. Chief Justice Weisberger held 12 honorary degrees. He was appointed by Pope John Paul II to the office of Knight Commander with the Star Order of St. Gregory. He received the Rhode Island Bar Association Award for Judicial Excellence in 2007 and the National Judicial College Award for the Advancement of Judicial Education in 2009.Chief Justice Weisberger served in the United States Navy from 1941 to 1946 with two years in the Pacific Theater, leaving with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

Chief Justice Weisberger’s jurisprudential legacy will forever be carved in the legal and judicial communities in Rhode Island and beyond.

Chief Justice Weisberger was a 56 year communicant and member of the Board of Trustees at St. Brendan Church. He was a member of the Board of Trustees at Rhode Island Hospital and the Board of Directors at St. Joseph Hospital and Our Lady of Fatima Hospital. He was a member of the East Providence Knights of Columbus Council #1528.

Besides his wife of 60 years, he is survived by a son; J. Robert Weisberger Jr. and his wife Gail Weisberger of Smithfield, a daughter; Judith W. Greene and her husband Gordon H. Greene II of Johnston and four grandchildren; Joseph R. Weisberger III, Justin Z. Weisberger, Anya N. Wroblewski and Robert T. Wroblewski Jr. He was the father of the late Paula W. Wroblewski.

His funeral will be held on Wednesday December 12, 2012 from the W. RAYMOND WATSON FUNERAL HOME, 350 Willett Avenue, Riverside at 8:30 am with a Concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial in St. Brendan Church, Turner Avenue, Riverside at 10 am. Graveside burial with Military Honors will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery.

Calling hours are Tuesday 3-8 pm. Flowers are respectfully omitted. Contributions in Chief Justice Weisberger’s memory to the Chief Justice Joseph Weisberger Distinguished Professor Fund at Roger Williams University School of Law, Ten Metacom Avenue, Bristol, RI, 02809 would be deeply appreciated.

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