Schwedler retires as probate judge in Iron County


CRYSTAL FALLS — On a rainy morning a few days after Christmas, retiring Probate Judge C. Joseph Schwedler cleaned out the Iron County Courthouse office he occupied for nearly 30 years.

He took the framed print of three attorneys gifted to him by his mother-in-law when he first moved to Crystal Falls to practice law in 1976. He took the weathered gavel given to him by his predecessor, Oswald Casanova. He took family photos.

The old desk stays.

Schwedler retired Dec. 31, the end of his current term as Iron County probate judge. Donald S. Powell, who was elected probate judge in November, took over this month.

Schwedler was appointed Iron County probate judge in 1990 by Gov. James Blanchard. In

1992, he was elected to finish the term of the retiring Probate Judge Oswald Casanova.

Schwedler would be re-elected to four additional six-year terms, served more than 28 years, the longest time on the bench of any probate judge in Iron County history.

In 1999, as part of a consolidation project to increase court efficiency and public access to judges, the Michigan Supreme Court appointed Schwedler to serve as Iron County’s first trial court judge. He presided over the 41st Circuit Court in Iron County, Iron County Probate Court, and 95B District Court in Iron County.

“He was a path-breaker,” local attorney Vincent Petrucelli said of Schwedler’s work as IronCounty’s first trial court judge. “He was the first one that did it, so he set the pathway for those who followed him, and he set a great example. People will follow his lead for generations.”

During his term as probate judge, Schwedler was appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to the Council of Chief Judges, served on the executive committee of the Michigan Probate Judges Association, and had executive positions in that association, including president.

Retired Circuit Court Judge Richard Celello, who has known Schwedler for more than 30 years, called Schwedler a hard-working judge with a “great judicial temperament.”

“I have known him to be compassionate and reasoned,” Celello said. “He is just an all-around good man and good judge.”