Saying goodbye to retired state Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers

Ret. Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers
Please join in remembering Ret. Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers with your thoughts, memories, and thanks.

In honor of Ret. Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers, we thought it important to open a space to recognize a man that dedicated his life to bettering the lives of those around him. This space is a place to remember Tom Chambers, to reflect upon the man that has given so much to our profession, and to share your memories, thoughts and thanks.

On behalf of the WSBA, I thank Tom Chambers for his leadership of our Bar as a tireless president and champion for justice.

As a young lawyer I sat in the outer circle at the Board of Governors’ meetings while Tom led. His leadership style was pragmatic. He always made me want to join in and help realize his vision. And, I was not alone because he always seemed to get the job done, regardless of the size of the task. He was funny, unbelievably kind and always a teacher. He led the Bar by example and led a life that set the bar high. He was an adventurer, a thrill seeker, a man of the people and a man for the people. He was a student of law, a voice for the voiceless, and an accomplished trial lawyer. All of these traits made him the type of Justice whose decisions made not just law, but history, and set a tone for justice that was unmistakably his. I will miss his mentorship and guidance. I will miss his voice in our Bar, from the bench, and in our society. I will miss the man who always made time to give more, and I will miss seeing the constant reminders he created that have inspired me and so many others to continue the march towards a more just society. Thank you Ret. Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers for all you have done and for all you have done it for.

Please join me in remembering Tom Chambers. Let this blog serve his legacy and may it give all of us a place to go to grieve, to smile, to remember and to see him in the eyes of those around us. 

Memorial Services

Information about memorial services, as well as more information about Ret. Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers’ life, can be found on his website:

15 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to retired state Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers

  1. Reva J. Blome'-Bunnell

    The day Tom became a Justice on the Washington State Supreme Court, I sent him a card saying, “You never cease to amaze.” It must have really tickled him because he wrote back, “I amaze myself sometimes.” He also wrote he was very appreciative of all the opportunities life had afforded him and he took the best advantage of them that he could. We are all better persons for having known Tom; I was a high-school class mate of his at Wapato Senior High School. Who would have guessed this hot-rod loving guy with the fastest car in the valley who used to go around to nearby towns and challenge other “hot” car owners to a race would someday become a state supreme court justice? I don’t think Tom himself knew. But he never forgot his roots; when I asked him if we should call him “Justice Chambers” now, he replied, “You can call me Tom.” So, Tom, “you have fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith.” 2 Tmothy 4:7 Grace be with you.

  2. Larry Johnson

    We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere.

  3. Diana Lehet

    I feel honored to have known such a remarkable man. May he rest in peace, and may his family find comfort in knowing he is no longer in pain.

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  5. James Marston

    Tom was a law partner of mine for many years and a good friend while we practiced law and attended law school together.

    I first noticed Tom in law school as he sat in the back row of the largest lecture hall, absent-mindedly combing his Elvis Presley-like hair and wearing white Levis, well-worn cowboy boots, and a very out of style and faded short sleeved plaid shirt. I subsequently learned that he drove a red Mustang with a white vinyl top while most of the rest of us had VWs or Volvos. In our law office, Tom bought starving artists pictures for his own space while some of the rest of us put up Chagall prints. Challenged for his taste, Tom kindly replied that he liked what he bought and didn’t have to pay as much.

    Tom was entirely comfortable with who he was and never left you with the impression that he felt that there was anything wrong with who you were. He did his own thinking but wanted to listen to yours and never missed developing his own conclusions after considering yours.

  6. Craig Elkins

    Although Tom was a neighbor of mine, he lived about 3 blocks from me, I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing him very well. I did know his work, however, and gained great knowledge from his trial deskbooks. I was out for a run one afternoon came upon him walking. I stopped to say hello and we struck up a conversation and I ended up walking with him for several blocks. He said walking helped him think about a case before him. It struck me how kind and personable he was and easy to talk to, a very class act!

  7. Brad Varney

    Tom was a good friend and diving companion along with his wife Judy. He will be greatly missed. We dove with him for many year’s and enjoyed his company, and mutual like for a cold one ! Tom was as down to earth as they come. Brad & Blesi Varney – B&B SCUBA INC.

  8. Todd Reichert

    I was a law clerk for Tom or “Boss” as we called him at the Supreme Court. Working for him was a pleasure and he made it a point to keep in touch after my clerkship throughout the years. The clerkship with him entailed not only assisting him in writing his opinions, but getting a beer after work or letting me drive one of his many cars to get detailed at the car wash. I am so glad that he was able to see my newly born son this summer. I am very glad that he allowed me to be a part of his life. He was an amazing guy. Thanks Boss. I will miss you.

  9. Justice Faith Ireland (Ret)

    It was my privilege to “come up” with Tom Chambers. We were young lawyer contemporaries and I served as the first female board member of WSTLA where Tom was also an active board member. In that role Tom raised lawyer education to new high standards with his lectures notebooks and finally his distinguished trial deskbooks. It was also my privilege to serve on the Washington State Supreme Court with him where he continued his high standards and helped shape the law for the better in Washington. I will always be grateful for knowing and working with Tom Chambers – a champion in so many ways.

  10. Grant Learned

    I first met Justice Chambers as a client. In learning more about him and his practice, I felt my matter was not worthy of his time. Justice Chambers assured me he would be happy to help. He was a consummate professional, insightful and caring and never once gave me the impression my matter was worthy of anything less than his best effort and attention. I found him inspiring to the point that it rekindled my own interest in the law and changed my career path dramatically. I am confident that my experience was that of all his clients and the community has lost a great man and servant. My best to his family and friends.

  11. Sims Weymuller

    For most of my career, I knew Justice Chambers only through his work. My father was honored to provide much of Justice Chamber’s medical care over the last decade or so, and I met him periodically through that connection. But this past year he was, amazingly, willing to spare time for discussions with me, even when he knew his days were numbered. Unlike many with the good fortune to have known him much better and much longer, I was just getting to know him as a person (rather than merely an idol) when he should have been his most vulnerable. Facing the ultimate foe, and staring it down. Vulnerable, he was not. Among many other things, his resolve, fight and bravery astonished me. That, and his continued willingness to live and give.

    In an email exchange this summer, I had commented that I admired him for many things, but perhaps the most was his dedication to family and living a full life. He responded in part:

    “On family life, it really helped to be married to one of the nicest creatures ever to draw breath on this planet. I hope you are so lucky. I do have a zest for life; always have. My work is nearly done on this earth and my strongest wish is that young lawyers like you will thrive and prosper and help those who need the help most, in part, because of my work. You would do me the greatest honor if sometime you are faced with a particularly difficult challenge in law or life and you ask the question: ‘What would Tom Chambers do?'”

    Justice Chambers wrote my father yesterday. Knowing it was his last day on Earth, he still took the time to thank those who have helped him along that way. Here is how he closed:

    “I fought hard and we had a good go at it. Absolutely no regrets.
    I march out of here with pipes this afternoon and wanted to say goodbye. I am at peace.”

    May we all, on our best, our worst, and our last day, do what Tom Chambers did.


  12. Ronald M. Gould

    I am saddened to hear of the passing of Justice Chambers. Before we were judges, Tom and I served together on the Washington State Bar Association’s Board of Governors. Tom Chambers always had a ready wit and a sound analysis of every problem. Clients loved and benefitted from his excellent advocacy. The state bar association benefitted from his excellent judgment. We all benefitted from association with him and will miss him dearly. Judge Ronald M. Gould

  13. Carrie Umland

    Washington State was so lucky to have Justice Chambers as a citizen and a jurist. He worked so hard for what was right and gave so much of himself. This morning as I read his email to Karen Kohler, he was once again giving of himself to the end. He will be missed. Rest in peace kind Sir.

  14. Marc L. Silverman

    Tom Chambers was a true original. Some are simply destined to be great in their time. Tom was great on many, many levels, as a lawyer, jurist, friend and beloved husband, father and beyond. He was a great humanist, charitable, generous, kind and compassionate. He was a great and fearless warrior, a deep, deep thinker and a supremely accomplished Renaissance man. But perhaps his most enduring legacy was as a teacher/parent. He truly gave professional “life” to thousands of “students”, his beloved trial lawyers, who were as much his children as those he actually parented. In so doing he improved the lives of tens of thousands of people representing all the clients his “children”, his students have helped over decades. He was bigger than himself because he was not bounded by himself. His generous gifts to us all only came back to honor him in manifold ways. Of Tom Chambers it can truly be said that the more he gave, the more he had.

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