Judge Statler's compassion, kindness remembered

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Compassionate and kind-hearted are just a few words that fellow judges used to describe longtime area judge Peter Statler, who died at the age of 74 earlier this month.

Statler was an associate judge in Cape Girardeau County from 1994 to 2010 and took over as municipal judge in Jackson after he stepped down from the state bench in 2010. He also was part of the Statler law firm with his sons Daniel and Travis. His other son, Matt, works as a business professor at New York University. Statler and his wife Judy were married for 49 years.

Statler made quite the impression on his sons, but didn't push them to follow in his career footsteps. Rather, Daniel Statler recalled advice he and his brothers received from their dad about fatherhood: you can't always make the right decision, but you can be there for your family.

"Reflecting on my childhood, that's very consistent with what he did. He was there," Daniel Statler said. "He was there, and that was a big deal. It was always nice to know Dad was there. He was quite the patriarch of the family. He was a very good father and very kind man."

His kindness wasn't just directed to his family, though. In fact, it extended into the courtroom, where he was enthusiastic and passionate despite dealing with tough situations.

"Judge Statler was my friend and colleague for over 30 years. He was relentlessly cheerful, which was amazing, given that he had an assignment dealing with thousands of cases that were relentlessly depressing," Judge Benjamin Lewis wrote in an email. "These are not cases where you see people at their best, but Pete knew that every case was important to every person involved."

He also created Cape Girardeau County's drug court.

"By him starting the drug court program, he's left his mark on countless numbers of lives that have been changed for the better," Judge Scott Lipke said. "It's allowed individuals to be reunited with their children so it's not a cycle from generation to generation. ... For him to be willing to take on that program ... we're much better off today."

Judge Gary Kamp couldn't recall a time when a lawyer ever had a complaint about Statler.

"He was a good, kind-hearted person, and he was honest," Kamp said. "He was just one of those people you miss. He was a good colleague whenever we were on the bench. ... I miss Pete. I missed him whenever he left the bench."

Statler will certainly be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

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