Court of Appeals
Robert W. Dean
District III (1978-1986); Presiding Judge (1978-1981)
Robert W. Dean was elected to the newly created Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District III, in 1978, served as presiding judge until 1981, was reelected twice, and retired in 1986.
Born in Tomahawk in 1923, he was active in football, basketball and boxing at Tomahawk High and played football and joined Phi Alpha Delta at the University of Wisconsin.
World War II interrupted his college years. After three years as a radio man overseas in the U.S. Air Force, he returned to the university and completed his education in 1950 with a law degree. Initially he practiced in Black River Falls and Eau Claire, but soon moved to Wausau where, after eight years in private practice, he spent the rest of his career in public office, both legislative and judicial.
In his first elected office he represented the 29th district (Marathon and Shawano counties) in the Wisconsin Senate, from 1959 to 1963, and served as minority floor leader. In 1964 Governor John W. Reynolds appointed him judge of the Marathon County Court, Branch 1, to succeed a retiring judge, and in 1966 Justice Horace Wilkie, a former colleague in the state senate, swore him in to a six-year elected term. He was reelected in 1972 and, by appointment, also served Wood County as acting circuit judge, holding court in eight counties throughout the eastern half of the state.
While serving on the bench, Dean remained involved in the development of juvenile justice law and alumni activities. Always active in community affairs, he was a VFW commander, chair of the American Heart Association Campaign and a member of the Committee for the Physically Handicapped, Wausau Taxpayer League, the American Legion, Knights of Columbus, and Elks, Moose and Eagle lodges.
Dean died in 1999 at the age of seventy-six. He had four sons and three daughters (including Jennifer Dean Andrews, a Wisconsin Court of Appeals staff attorney).