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In tribute to a great judge

To the editor:

After reading the Suffolk News-Herald’s article about the passing of Judge (Edward Everett) Bagnell (“Former judge remembered,” May 19), I found myself saddened and struggled with words thinking about the man and his career.

I felt compelled to write this expression of my condolences to his family and to share my respect for a great judge. I was born and raised in Suffolk and recall reading many articles about Judge Bagnell’s time on the bench during his career spanning more than three decades. I was glad to see the recognition the Hon. Richard Savage paid to Judge Bagnell.

Although I am a convicted felon, I would also like to pay homage to a valued fellow citizen of Suffolk and surrounding communities. Judge Bagnell was a truly outstanding judge who showed toughness on the bench, consistently adhering to the Code of Virginia and Virginia Supreme Court rulings. It was not lost on me that he showed fairness in his decisions and showed mercy when he felt it was appropriate.

Judge Bagnell presided over an issue in my case but was not the final arbiter in my conviction. As I have read articles about his other cases over the years, I have noted how he embodied all the attributes of a model judge. I am especially impressed with his ability to be firm in his decisions while allowing convicted felons a chance at redemption.

My own experiences have shown me how valuable a man such as Judge Bagnell can be to the betterment of the communities he served. I was sentenced to a lengthy term in the Virginia penal system. However, I’m not upset, because over the years I have accepted responsibility for the crime I committed. I am now far into the time I had to serve as payment on my debt to society and have allowed redemption to have its perfect work in my life moving forward.

It’s thanks to great men like Judge Bagnell that I have been afforded this chance to correct my life and improve the lives around me. I pay all respects to the family of such a great and sorely lost pillar in our community. In closing, as the family requested, I’d like to make a donation of $50 dollars to the Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters. P.O. Box 2156, Norfolk, VA 23501.

Gary D. Ward