LEXINGTON — Forester, Karl Spillman, 73, husband of Tarasa Travis Forester, died Saturday, March 29, 2014. Born in Harlan, KY, he was the son of the late W.D. and Elizabeth Spillman Forester.
Karl Forester was involved in private practice in Harlan, Kentucky from 1966 to 1988. He was appointed to the federal bench by Ronald Reagan and began his service as a United States District Court Judge on July 27, 1988. Judge Forester served as the Chief Judge of the Eastern District of Kentucky from January 2001 until May 2005, after which he took senior status but did not reduce his case load.
Among the more familiar significant cases handled by Judge Forester are: United States v. Stephen L. Keller, a criminal jury trial arising from the viatical insurance practices of Kelco, Inc.; American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky v. Mercer County, Kentucky, which upheld posting of the Ten Commandments on government property.
While Judge Forester's calm demeanor and skill as a federal judge have been widely known, it was his handling of the Comair case that drew the most recent high praise. The case involved four dozen plaintiffs and multiple defendants who were represented by some of the very best aviation attorneys in the country, along with excellent local counsel. Intelligent and fair, he managed this case with dignity and soft-spoken steel. As quoted by a local attorney, "Judge Forester conducted his Court in a manner that was sensitive and respectful to the parties involved, deferential to counsel, dignified, and decisive. His leadership and oversight led to the ultimate resolution of all cases in a swift but fair manner. His rulings were scholarly, timely and demonstrated diligence and an understanding of the many parties' respective positions and the complexities of the various claims and defenses presented."
Judge Forester was written about in "The Erosion of Secrecy in Air Disaster Litigation", praising him for raising the shroud of secrecy from the Comair Flight 5191 tragedy. A humble man, he received numerous professional awards including most recently the Distinguished Jurist, to be given at the upcoming UK Law Alumni reception at the Kentucky Bar Convention. He was a member of Idle Hour Country Club, enjoyed a round of golf and spending time at Keeneland with a bourbon and cigar.
In addition to his wife of 50 years, he is survived by his children, William Todd (Lola) Forester, Winfield, WV and Mary Beth (Sean) Cutter, Frankfort, KY; grandchildren, Amelia and Sam Cutter and Katherine and Natalie Forester; nephews, Will Carroll and Jon Carroll. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Jane Carroll.
Funeral services will be 11:30 AM Wed at First Presbyterian Church, Lexington, conducted by The Rev. Mark T. Davis. Visitation will be 4-7 PM Tues at Milward-Broadway. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Markey Cancer Center, 800 Rose St, Lexington, KY 40536 or Hospice of the Bluegrass, 2312 Alexandria Drive, Lexington, KY 40504. www.milwardfuneral.com