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Roxana Cannon ARSHT


The Honorable Roxana Cannon Arsht The Honorable Roxana Cannon Arsht, age 88, of Greenville, Delaware died on October 3, 2003 in the Christiana Hospital. Judge Arsht was the 5th woman admitted to the Delaware bar. She was born in Wilmington at Second and Adams Streets and attended Wilmington public schools. Her undergraduate degree was from Goucher College, with a major in chemistry and a minor in mathematics. She was a 1939 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After passing the Delaware bar in 1941, she applied for jobs all around Wilmington, but received no favorable replies. She turned her attention to being a wife to S. Samuel Arsht, a mother to two daughters, and a community leader. Twenty-five years after her admission, her daughter Adrienne Arsht was the 11th woman admitted to the Delaware bar. In 1962, Judge Arsht began working as a volunteer master in the Family Court. After serving without pay for nine years, she made history when she was appointed by Governor Russell W. Peterson as a judge of the Family Court in 1971. At the age of 56, she was the first woman to hold a judicial position in Delaware. Being petite, she had to get a child's choir robe to wear to court. Later, she gave her ruffled dickie to Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. She retired from the bench in 1983 at which time she began a new career as a philanthropist. Through the years, she has given time and financial support to numerous charities including Planned Parenthood, First Stage at Tower Hill School, and the new exhibition building at the Winterthur Museum. After her husband's death from cancer, she became the founding member of the Cancer Care Connection. She and her late husband Sam have contributed generously to the development of the Academy of Lifelong Learning near the Goodstay Campus of the University of Delaware where she continued taking courses throughout her life. The student building is named Arsht Hall. The Roxana Cannon Arsht Surgicenter at 12th and Jefferson streets in Wilmington was made possible by a gift from her late husband in recognition of her longtime service as a Christiana Care trustee. Judge Arsht was the recipient of numerous awards including the Trailblazer Award, the University of Delaware Medal of Distinction, the First State Distinguished Service Award, the Josiah Marvel Cup, and the annual award of recognition from the National Conference for Community and Justice. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Delaware Women in 1986. Judge Arsht was preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, S. Samuel Arsht in 1999, their daughter Alison in 1973, her parents Samuel and Matilda Cannon, her brother Dr. Norman L. Cannon and his wife Reba R. Cannon. She is survived by her daughter Adrienne Arsht of Miami, Florida, nephew Eric S. Cannon of Newark, Delaware, niece Claudia Rash of Wayne, Pennsylvania, and nephew Dr. Robert Cannon of Graham, North Carolina. Judge Arsht's father was an immigrant from Eastern Europe who put a high value on education. Judge Arsht was often quoted as saying "the world does not owe you a living; you have to stand on your own two feet". She will be remembered as a pioneer, a mentor to many women in the Delaware bar and a generous, loyal friend, with great energy and a determination to fight injustice wherever it might be found. There will be a private memorial service for Academy of Lifelong Learning members, Friday, October 10, 2003 at 2 pm, the University of Delaware's Arsht Hall, 2700 Pennsylvania Avenue, Wilmington. .A public memorial service will be held at the same location, on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 at 3 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Sam and Roxana Arsht Memorial Fund that is being established in their honor at the Academy of Lifelong Learning, 115 Arsht Hall, 2700 Pennsylvania Avenue, Wilmington DE 19806, or to The Arsht-Cannon Fund at The Delaware Community Foundation, P.O. Box 1636, Wilmington, Delaware 19899, or to the charity of your choice.

Published in The News Journal on Oct. 6, 2003
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