Former judge dies

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 24, 2002

CHESAPEAKE - A respected, long-time Lawrence County jurist passed away Saturday morning.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

CHESAPEAKE - A respected, long-time Lawrence County jurist passed away Saturday morning.

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Former Common Pleas Court Judge Kenneth B. Ater of Chesapeake died at his home yesterday morning after a long-time illness.

Ater, who was 78 years old, retired from the bench on Dec. 31, 1996 after 23 years of public service.

Ater had a law practice in Chesapeake for 15 years and was a county court judge for seven years. Among his peers, Ater was a respected attorney and judge.

Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney J.B. Collier, Jr., said Ater was, "a good man, strong willed, and a strong judge."

Collier continued, saying Ater was "strong willed and respected by the Bar. He was a fair-minded judge."

Collier explained that Ater "grew up in poor circumstances…he didn’t have a silver spoon in his mouth. He respected the working and the poor people," and that Ater’s background set the tone of how he treated people in both is law practice and during his tenure on the bench.

"His passing his a real loss to the community," Collier said.

Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Walton, who also worked with Ater said that "although you know death is inevitable," the news of Ater’s passing "came as a shock."

"He was a veteran, a public servant and interested in the welfare of the community," Walton said. Walton had worked with Ater for several year, Ater became common pleas judge in 1973, and Walton took the bench in 1981.

"He was a good judge," Walton said, "he had the ability to go to the heart of the case."

Ironton Municipal Court Judge Clark Collins also lauded Ater has a distinguished judge.

"I admired Judge Ater a lot…the way he handled his cases and courtroom. He was a strong judge who wouldn’t be intimidated."

Collins said Ater was well versed in the law and wasn’t easy to push around on points of law. "I watched some of the big city, Columbus attorney come in and think they were going to teach (Ater) a lesson. I saw many of them go back to Columbus with their tails between their legs."

Ater is survived by his wife of 53 years, Mary Ann Allen Ater, an educator in the county. He is also survived by two sons and daughters-in-law, Kenneth B.H. and Marsha Ater of Chesapeake; and Jonathan E. and Laura Ater of Nelsonville; three daughters and sons-in-law, Karen E. Musser of Proctorville; Cynthia K. and Harry Stiltner of Lexington, S.C.; and Amy and Phil Henson of Chesapeake. He is also survived by twelve grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.

Ater was a member of the United Methodist Church in Chesapeake; the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio, Scioto Chillicothe No. 6; Scottish Rite of Cincinnati; the Veterans of Foreign War Post No. 6878 in Proctorville; the American Legion Post No. 640; and the Disabled American Veterans.

The VFW Post No. 6878 will conduct a private ceremony at Schneider-Griffin Funeral Home in Chesapeake.

Visitation and Masonic rites will be held at Ware Funeral Home in Chillicothe, tomorrow from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The Rev. Richard Breidenbaugh, Ater’s nephew, will conduct graveside services for family and friends at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Brown’s Chapel in Clarksburg.