By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Cheyenne County Loses Passionate Attorney and Judge

 

Honorable Judge Thomas Henry Dorwart

Doing his job wasn't enough. He wanted to invest in his community socially and intellectually. He wanted to be a judge who would offer certain offenders a second chance.

The Honorable Judge Thomas Henry Dorwart died Sunday, April 28 in Sidney at the age of 89. He is known as a judge and attorney, but he is also known for his willingness to help others, to view life outside of the box.

He started the first Drug Court in the state of Nebraska, according to his wife Pat. It is a legacy that is still seen in Cheyenne County. He moved to Cheyenne County from Lincoln at the encouragement of his uncle, Dr. C.B. Dorwart.

She says he wasn't satisfied being an attorney, which led him to become a judge. She says he always wanted more education, to learn more, and that is what led him to a judgeship.

He is also known for his interest and care for children and youth.

"He always believed in giving them a chance," his wife Pat Dorwart said.

She recalled times when a teen came before him in the Drug Court he would offer the teen an alternative, but the teen was cautioned if he or she returned before him again, he would not be so lenient.

"He cared so much about kids," she said.

Prior to becoming an attorney, Dorwart was a telephone lineman. He also had careers with the Nebraska Department of Roads, Nebraska Department of Insurance, and in private law practice. He served as a Cheyenne County judge for 29 years, during which time he founded the Cheyenne County Drug Court. He was also a member of the Nebraska Commission for the Protection of Children and Nebraska Coalition for Juvenile Justice.


Outside of his professional life, he was a member of the Roman Catholic Church, an avid reader, enjoyed telling stories, cooking, antique cars, vintage-tractor pulls, playing cribbage, horseback riding and was a Master Gardner and Master Beekeeper. He was also a member of the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Cheyenne County Sweet Corn Club, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, FMC, American Mensa International, Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, Knights of Columbus, the Maiwand Jezails ( a Scion Society of the Baker Street irregulars), commissioner of the Nebraska Boy Scouts and a breakfast club regular.

He is survived by is wife of 57 years, Patricia; son Thomas Yule and Colleen Dorwart; daughter Virginia Ellen Splichal; daughter Katherine Ann and Mark Lewallen; sister Suzanne Dr. Anthony) Wolfe, grandchildren Ashley Ann, J.D., and Elizabeth Dorwart, Sarah-Kate, Burke, and Audrey Splichal, Thomas, Amelia, and James Lewallen, and numerous nieces, nephews, and extended family members.


He was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Thomas and Virginia Dorwart, and Ellen and Lon Howell, and his brother Robert Yule and wife Mary (Lewelling) Dorwart.

Recitation of Rosary is scheduled for 2 p.m. today at St. Patrick Catholic Church.

 

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