Contreras, Judge Joe W. (Ret.)
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Joe W. Contreras, third generation Arizonan, was born in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 27, 1933 and passed away January 16, 2013. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joe W. and Armida Contreras, and his brother, John. He is survived by his loving wife, Judy, and children, Chip (Sharon), Jeff (Mika), Mara (Scott) Rasmussen, Lisa (Tracey) Hinson, Steve, and 10 grandchildren.
Joe graduated from Phoenix Union High School. He participated in varsity sports and was a member of the Letterman's Club. He was president of Legio Decima Latin Club. He was a member of the Parnassus Scholastic Club and National Honor Society. He was a class officer and served as Salutatorian of his graduating class. Joe graduated from Arizona State University where he was President of the Young Democrats, a member of Arnold Air Society and was selected Outstanding R.O.T.C. Flight Leader. Upon graduation he entered the U.S. Air Force and commenced flight training. He was subsequently assigned to the Auditor General Headquarters USAF. Following active duty he served for another 20 years in the Active Air Force Reserve as a Mobilization Augmentee attached to the Judge Advocate General retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel and was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal. In 1982 he was presented with the Arizona State University Alumni Achievement Award for Professional Excellence.
Joe graduated from the University of Arizona College of Law where he was a member of the Arizona Law Review and served as a member of the editorial board. Joe was a member of Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity, served as Chairman of the Board of Governors and was honored as an outstanding graduate.
After graduation he was appointed as a law clerk to Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Fred C. Struckmeyer, Jr. After completing his service, Joe entered private law practice with the law firm of Minne and Sorenson, where he was a general practitioner with an emphasis in Appellate practice.
In 1969 Joe and Andy Ward formed the law firm of Ward and Contreras, Ltd. and practiced civil and labor law. In 1978 Joe was appointed as a judge to the Arizona Court of Appeals, Division I. He later served as a presiding judge and as Chief Judge. He was a member of the Arizona Judge's Association, served as its President and was a member of the Association's Executive Board for 25 years. After retirement he served as an arbitrator for the Arizona Arbitration Association.
Joe often said he was the luckiest guy in the world. He had a great wife and family and served the legal profession for over 50 years. His family says he was a wonderful husband, father and genuine friend to all. For his honesty, dignity, and integrity we celebrate his life.
Memorial Mass will be at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at Brophy Chapel, 4701 North Central Avenue Phoenix, Arizona 85012. Memorials in Joe's honor may be made to the Andre House, 1203 West Polk Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85007.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Jan. 20, 2013