GEORGIA -Honorable Judge John Worcester passed away suddenly on August 17.
Judge Worcester faithfully served the people of Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties for more than 20 years. Although he most recently served as a superior court judge for the past 7 years, he first served as the Appalachian Judicial Circuit’s Chief Juvenile Judge.
Judge Worcester created an impressive career for himself in his 74 years and friends, colleagues and those alike are remembering him for his years of service, that many say ended too soon.
The family will be receiving friends at Roper Funeral Home and Crematory, Thursday, August 24, 2023 from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m, in a memorial for Judge Worcester.
He will be laid to rest in Ft. Worth, Texas.
Judge Worcester created a legacy of serving and caring for others and the words of some that have gotten to know him best, speak for themselves:
I have had the pleasure of knowing Judge John E. Worcester for about thirty-five years. Some of our earliest interactions in the 1990s were in Juvenile Court, particularly with his involvement with Appalachian CASA. Judge Worcester went on to become Chief Juvenile Judge, and he was later appointed as one of the three Superior Court Judges for Pickens, Gilmer, and Fannin counties. His passion was accountability courts. He was the previous Presiding Judge for Family Treatment Court and the current Presiding Judge for Parental Accountability Court and HELP Court. We spent hours together working on our accountability courts.He was a team player and always wanted to know how he could help.
Judge Worcester supported his friends and co-workers outside of the courtroom as well, visiting hospitals, officiating weddings, and attending school graduations.He often passed out candy on Main Street in Blue Ridge on Halloween.He wanted to let people know they were important to him.
Judge Worcester was a sharp dresser.He was often in a bow tie. His colorful blazers enlivened the mood of a staff meeting. He enjoyed dressing up in a tuxedo for formal events and never missed the Appalachian Bar Christmas Party.
Throughout his terms as judge, he continued to lend support to CASA, being named National CASA Judge of the Year in 2017 and the only Georgia Judge to have ever received this honor.Additionally, Judge Worcester’s HELP Court was named a Model Court in 2020 by the Georgia Council of Accountability Court Judges.
In reading the memorials that have poured in for Judge Worcester, one thought is repeatedly shared:Judge Worcester made other people feel that they mattered.What an honor and a legacy to be remembered in that way. – Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver
Today, another giant fell. Judge John Worcester was an amazing man, judge, mentor, and friend. He was truly one of a kind. He was funny. He told so many stories. He would talk your head off for hours. I loved the stories. He would have me crying from laughing so hard. The stories about him were just as good. Let’s just say the shenanigans were legendary. He was always a sharp dresser and in his signature piece–a bowtie. He was kind and compasitonate. He had a true heart for children and protecting them.
I didn’t always agree with his rulings, but I knew he thought he was making the right decision. He would always compliment the attorneys practicing in front of him. He would announce what a great job all the attorneys did, even if we didn’t think we did so great. He wanted people and lawyers to be better, in every aspect. He wanted us all to surpass our potential, and he had no problem telling you that or calling you out. He would stay as late as it took to finish a case and comically state that he had nowhere else to be.
In my legal career, he encouraged me to push harder. He said many times, “I think you’ve made a good name for yourself around here.” We would have long talks about how he saw things progressing and growing in Jasper. He would encourage me to stay in Jasper and plant deep roots but to also spread my wings and travel the world. We would reminiscent about Mr. Marger. Gosh, he really helped me through that time in my life, even though he was grieving more than me. He helped me in more ways than I can ever state here.
He will be missed by so so many. Our community is not the same. Our courthouses are not the same. Our lives are not the same. Thank you, Worcester, for being you. – Attorney Courtney Stuart
What do you say about a man who everyone referred to as such a kind soul. There really are no words, Off the bench, he was funny, compassionate, empathetic, sincere and on and on. On the bench, he was the same. Everyone believed they had their day in court, and he listened, really listened.
Throughout the years, I argued before him, laughed at times and cried at others. We would discuss our plans for the future or our plans for the day. There was never an easier person to be around. Above all he cared…tremendously….about his family, his friends, his colleagues, and those he served.
My family will never forget him driving (and we all know about John’s driving) through torrential rain and flooding to see me in the hospital in Atlanta in 2009. I did not know whether to hug him or cuss at him…but that’s who he was.
There will now be a void in the circuit that cannot be filled, as well as one in our hearts. If I could sum John up in one phase, it would be “well done good and faithful servant, well done. – Judge Trish King
Judge Worcester was humble, kind and professional in all of my interactions with him. Even if his ruling did not go my way, I still felt we were treated fairly in the process. He will be greatly missed. – Attorney Laura J. Ray
I had the privilege of working closely with Judge Worcester over the last several years as he presided over the Mental Health Court. As the coordinator, I was allowed rare glimpses into who this man was as he rarely talked about himself and spent most of his time talking to participants. He was someone who saw possibilities rather than obstacles, and he saw the accountability court participants for who he knew they could be and waited patiently for them to become that person. He treated everyone with respect regardless of whether you were courthouse staff or the defendant. He was a fierce advocate for education, many times telling participants he’s not giving up on them, so they don’t get to give up on themselves. He truly made people feel their worth and that they could achieve anything they put their minds to. He also was a believer in the motto, “it is never too late to learn,” as he went to law school at age 40 and joked that “he still didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up.”
Many times with a bag of potato chips in hand, he would come sit in my office just to talk. One of my fondest memories was sitting in his office one day when I asked him why he had a hockey jersey framed in his office. He beamed with excitement to tell me, and I sat listening and learning about his time in boarding school, his parents, his long curly hair days, that he initially came back to the states to play hockey, his stories of working with Ed Marger, how he meet his wife Sharon, his work with CASA and how he loves the life he has created.
I am thankful I had the privilege of witnessing his compassion, advocacy, kindness and his jokes that always started with, “I better not” only to continue where he possibly laughed as hard as the other person. I will be forever thankful for JW. – Lindsey Ray, Mental Health Court Coordinator
I’ve know Judge John Worester for several years. He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known and cared deeply for everyone. He had a great sense of humor and I will miss him dearly. He is a loss to our communities which can not be replaced. May he rest in peace. – Lisa Pritchard
I believe that John had the ability to see the best in those people that came before him as judge. He also had a true passion to help the young people in our community. His passing is a great loss for our area. He was much loved, much respected and will be greatly missed. – Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney Alison Sosebee