Judge Warren Chan Ret.
1922 - 2015
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Judge Warren Chan, Ret.

Judge Warren Chan, Ret., who broke numerous barriers as an American of Chinese descent, passed away in Seattle on June 15, 2015, at the age of 92. He was the first ethnically Chinese graduate of the University of Washington Law School, and the first Asian to sit on the King County Superior Court, where he eventually chaired the National Conference of State Trial Judges. When he retired in 1992 he was the senior Superior Court judge in the state of Washington.

Warren Chan, (4th generation Chinese American), was born in San Francisco on December 29, 1922 to parents James Jick Chan and Violette Yow. He was the fourth of eight children.

Within a few months of Warren's birth, the family moved to Seattle when his father accepted a job as an interpreter with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Warren graduated from Garfield High School in 1940. He is a Garfield Golden Grad.

During the early months of World War II Warren enlisted in the army and was trained as a radio operator and served all over the Pacific for three years.

At the end of the war, Warren attended the University of Washington and in 1950 became the first Chinese American graduate of its law school graduating fourth in his class.

Warren became Seattle's first Chinese attorney when he set up a practice with another lawyer, Floyd Reischling and in 1960, Warren became a senior partner at Chan, Uhlman and Callies. One of the partners, Wes Uhlman, became Seattle's youngest mayor in 1969.

"Warren was a real trailblazer in the legal profession and the judiciary in Seattle", said Wes Uhlman.. "He was the first minority member of the legal profession and in the Superior Court. He was a role model and a mentor to many young people who followed"

Throughout his career as a lawyer and judge, Warren was active within the Asian American community. He was co-founder, president and board member of the Wing Luke Museum and the Chinese Community Service Organization and was the Museum's first president.

Warren was appointed as a Seattle municipal judge, and in 1968 he won a seat on the King County Superior Court, the first Chinese American judge elected in the State of Washington. He served as King County's presiding judge in 1975. Warren joined the faculty of the Washington State College of the Judiciary in 1970 and became its dean in 1973. He was elected Chair of the National Conference of State Trial Judges in 1987 and 1988.

"I had the privilege of serving on the King County Superior Court with him and he was a distinguished colleague, studious and thoughtful, who helped to diversify the judiciary," Justice Ireland said.

On the U.S. Centennial of July 4,

1976, the Republic of China (Taiwan) featured Judge Chan and 35 other outstanding Chinese Americans in a magazine-style advertising supplement to the New York Times.

After retirement he accompanied his wife, Nobie, to Kobe, Japan. Warren taught law while in Xi'an, China and even gave golf lessons in Kobe. Back in the States, he did charitable work for the Retired Judges of Washington, the James Washington Foundation and the Seattle Chinese Garden. He was also a member of Jon Ten, Alderbrook Golf and Country Club, Columbia Tower Club, American Bar Association, Cathay Post (186) American Legion, and Gee How Oak Tin Association.

Warren received many awards including the "Living Asian American Pioneer Award," presented by Governor Gary Locke in 1999.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Nobie; daughter Cindy Nomura and her husband David Nomura, and their children Michael and Suzuye; son Taylor Terao and his wife Sakie Naruke; daughter April Hale and her husband Robert Hale, and their children Devon and Preston; son James Chan and partner Kathy Krofchek; son Mark Terao and his wife Candi, and their children Cori and Jacob; daughter Jill Rinearson and her husband Peter Rinearson, and their daughters Tess and Indigo. He is also survived by his sisters Agnes Wazny, Beatrice Eng, Vivian Chun and his brother Leslie, all of Seattle. He has many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his brothers Bertram, Quentin and Francis.

A public memorial service will be held July 3rd 2015, 1:00 at the South Seattle College, Seattle Chinese Garden, 6000 16th Ave SW, Seattle

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to Seattle Chinese Garden, seattlechinesegarden.org.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times from Jun. 28 to Jul. 2, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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5 entries
July 4, 2015
I was fortunate to have spent the summer of 1978 living with Uncle Warren and his family. He was always full of great stories that always finished with an authorative affirmation or genuine laugh. He taught me to make tomato beef and laughed at my jokes. He will be missed dearly. Holly Sata Snyder
Holly Sata Snyder
July 2, 2015
As a brand new Superior Court Judge in 1981, my office (they didn't have enough courtrooms for us all) was right across the hallway from Warren's chambers. He was kind and welcoming and often mentored me, being a senior judge. His wisdom was valuable and his generous nature meant a lot to me.
George Mattson
July 2, 2015
Uncle Warren:

You gave so much to our company as legal counsel and the community.

You will be dearly missed!


Tim (For the Louie family and Tsue Chong Noodle Company)
June 30, 2015
Please accept my condolences for your loss. May your family be strengthened during this difficult time (Psalm 9:9) - Vicky
June 28, 2015
Uncle Warren had a long, meaningful life and served our community well. I can remember he and Auntie Nobie playing tennis with us many years ago as kids up at the Broadway courts. May we all keep our fond memories close to our hearts.
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