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Willis Seymour Metcalfe
STANDING out distinctly as one of the central figures of
the judiciary of Ohio is the name of Judge Willis Seymour Metcalfe, of Chardon. Prominent in legal circles
and equally so in public matters beyond the confines of
his own jurisdiction, with a reputation in one of the most exacting of professions that has won for him a name for distinguished service second to that of none of his contemporaries, there is to-day no more prominent or honored man in the northeastern section of the State which he has long dignified by his citizenship. Achieving success in the courts at an age when most young men are just entering upon the formative period of their lives, wearing the judicial ermine with becoming dignity and bringing to every case submitted to him a clearness of perception and ready power of analysis characteristic of the learned jurist, Judge Metcalfe's name and work have for years been allied so with the legal institutions, public enterprises and political interests of Geauga and adjoining counties as to earn him recognition as one of the distinguished citizens in a community noted for the high order of its talent, and he is now discharging in a commendable manner the responsible duties of judge of the Seventh Judicial District of the Court of Appeals of Ohio.
Judge Metcalfe was born at Chardon, Geauga County, Ohio, October 26, 1853. He is a son of Eben and Louisa (Chapin) Metcalfe. The father was a mechanic and farmer in Geauga County,. and our subject worked on the home farm and went to common and high school until he was eighteen years of age. He was very studious, and in his boyhood planned to become a civil engineer. An accident changed his course, and while recovering from his injury he took up the study of law. This brought out his true bent and he made rapid progress in Blackstone, Kent, and Greenleaf. He was admitted to the practice of law, April 4, 1878, and for two years remained at Chardon, during which he got a good start, then moved to Burton, Ohio, where he continued in the practice for six years, returning to Chardon in 1890 and associated himself with N. G. King in the practice of law. Soon thereafter he became a candidate for prosecuting attorney of Geauga County and was duly elected, serving three terms of three years each. His able handling of the affairs of this office proved his value as a public servant, and in 1901 Governor Nash appointed him judge of the Court of Common Pleas, to fill the unexpired term of Judge D. W. Canfield, whose death occurred while in office. At the expiration of the term, Judge Metcalfe was elected to succeed himself for a full term of six years, in 1904. At that time the third sub-division of the Ninth District of Ohio comprised the counties of Lake, Ashtabula, and Geauga.
Upon the resignation of Judge J. V. Burrows, Governor Harris appointed Judge Metcalfe to the Circuit Court, on January 9, 1909, to fill the vacancy. The following year our subject was elected judge of the Circuit Court for the unexpired term. The legislature of Ohio changed the name of the Circuit Court to the
Court of Appeals and gave it greater and final jurisdiction. In 1914, Judge Metcalfe, was elected to a full term of six years as judge of the Court of Appeals, and as such holds court with his associates, Judge John Pollock of St. Clairsville, and Judge W. H. Spencer of Lisbon, Ohio, in fourteen counties, including Ashtabula, Lake, Geauga, Trumbull, Portage, Mahoning, Columbiana, Canal, Guernsey, Noble, Monroe, Harrison, Belmont, and Jefferson. These counties comprise the Seventh Judicial District of the Court of Appeals of Ohio. In being elected to this important office our subject had the full support of the attorneys of the district, who recognize him as one of Ohio's ablest jurists, and one of the most satisfactory and popular men on the bench that this district has ever produced, conservative, fair-minded, industrious, studious, unbiased, and with high ideals.
Judge Metcalfe was married February 7, 1884, to Hattie Norton, a lady of education and refinement, and a daughter of Horace and Caroline Norton. To the judge and wife a daughter was born, Garda, who was given excellent educational advantages. She married Dr. Byron C. Colvin, of Cleveland, Ohio.
Politically Judge Metcalfe is a Republican and has long been very active in party affairs; in fact, is a leader in this section of the State where he has done much for the success of his party. Fraternally he belongs to the Masonic Order and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, both at Chardon, Ohio.
Judge Metcalfe is a splendid example of a successful self-made man, his success in life being attributed to close study and hard work. He is a man of sociable, obliging, and lovable disposition, and his friends are legion throughout the district he so ably and conscientiously serves. He is a very busy man in the discharge of his official duties and has long ranked among the successful and conscientious jurists of the State, noted for the kindness with which he treats the younger members of the bar, and his uniform courtesy to the older ones. He never indulges in personalities. He has no malice or sting in his words. On the bench his painstaking, laborious review and study of the case, and his accurate recollection of precedents, always keep him in thorough preparation, and his profound legal erudition and sound judgment prevent him from resting on any hazardous or uncertain ground. In every sphere he has demonstrated the individual unit and the creation of himself. On the political platform he is an impressive and persuasive orator, his high character giving greater force to his bare assertions than some could get for a statement quoted from the record. His utterances are always concise, logical and deductive. He still retains his original vigor, and his kind, friendly and generous heart is unchilled by age.
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