MARTINSBURG – U.S. District Judge W. Craig Broadwater died Monday at a Pittsburgh hospital.
Broadwater, who was being treated for cancer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, was 56.
Broadwater was born Aug. 8, 1950, in Elk City, Okla. He had been a federal judge for 10 years, having been appointed to the bench by President Clinton.
Broadwater held undergraduate and law degrees from West Virginia University. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the West Virginia University Army ROTC and served in the U.S. Army from 1972 to 1974, before he attended law school.
He had been a member of the West Virginia Army National Guard since 1976 and was a brigadier general at the time of his death.
He served as a special prosecutor in Ohio County from 1978-1979 and 1982-1983. He was a hearing examiner for the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Fund from 1978-1981. Former Gov. Jay Rockefeller appointed Broadwater to the circuit bench in 1983, and he was elected the following year.
He lived in Wheeling while serving as a circuit judge in West Virginia's First Judicial Circuit, which includes Ohio, Brooke and Hancock counties. He was chairman of the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission from 1986-1987. He also served as co-chairman of the Family Law Masters Rules of Practice and Procedures Committee and as chairman of the Committee to Develop Child Abuse and Neglect Rules.
"He was just an incredible man," West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis said Tuesday in a statement. "He was instrumental in facilitating a bridge between the state and federal courts. He never forgot the state judiciary and was always in touch with the state judicial association."
The other state Supreme Court justices had similar sentiments.
"He was a judge's judge and a wonderful human being," Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard said.
"I knew Craig and his family quite well and respected him as one of the finest judges during my 30-year tenure on the bench," Justice Larry Starcher said. "It's really a loss. I considered him to be one of the bright stars in the federal judiciary."
"I considered Judge Broadwater to be one of our finest young circuit judges when he was a circuit judge," Justice Joseph P. Albright said. "His nomination and confirmation as a federal district judge simply confirmed the high regard in which he should be held. His death is a tragedy and a genuine loss for the people of this state. My sympathy goes out to his wife and family."
"Judge Craig Broadwater was a kind, fair, and humble man," Justice Brent Benjamin said. "He was a good friend. I respected Craig not only as one of the best judges I have known, but also for his dedicated service to the military and his community. My thoughts are with his family."
Some of West Virginia's circuit judges also praised Broadwater.
Judge Jack Alsop of West Virginia's 14th judicial circuit was in the same law school class as Broadwater. They graduated in 1977.
"Craig was a bright, kind person who served both the state of West Virginia as a circuit judge in the First Circuit and as a federal judge in the Northern District with honor and distinction, and also served West Virginia in the National Guard," Alsop said. "It's a great loss to our state and our country."
Mercer Circuit Judge Derek C. Swope served with Broadwater in the National Guard before Swope retired as a full colonel in June 2005.
"This is a tremendous loss for the citizens of West Virginia, for the whole judicial branch -- federal and state -- and for the soldiers of the West Virginia Army National Guard," Swope said. "He was a great human being and a remarkable person to know.
"General Broadwater was an outstanding patriot and a leader. He was my last boss in the West Virginia Army National Guard before I retired. His family has my heartfelt prayers and thoughts. Even though I am retired, I know I speak for all the members of the West Virginia Army National Guard who have served with Judge Broadwater. Our hearts go out for him, and he will be sorely missed. It's a deep personal tragedy for me. I wish the best for his family."
Judge Ronald E. Wilson of the 1st Judicial Circuit called Broadwater "a true patriot."
"He really was that rare combination of a person who not only loved God, but his family, and his country and the law," Wilson said. "The unfortunate thing is this truly is an unfinished life. There were just so many roads for him to go down, and we all expected him to accomplish a lot more in his young life.
"He treated everyone with respect and had extremely good manners, and personal courage, and instincts to do the right thing. All the people who worked with him are really saddened. They really loved him."
First Circuit Judge Martin J. Gaughan said he will remember Broadwater's generosity.
"He willingly gave me valuable advice when I first went on the bench, and he contributed immensely to the education of all the judges by teaching seminars at our judicial conferences," Gaughan said. "I will miss him. My condolences to the family."
Broadwater is survived by his wife, Chong, daughters Taeja and Chandra, and son Shane.
Funeral services were scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday at Inwood. A military graveside service was to be held Saturday at West Union.