In 1978, John Chiota took the bench in Trumbull as the probate judge.
Thirty-five years later, T.R. Rowe is donning a black robe to adjudicate wills and estates and handle adoptions in Trumbull, Monroe and Easton.
Rowe, a family man and an attorney, stepped down from his seat in the Connecticut House of Representatives last November to pursue the office. Chiota has reached the mandatory retirement age of 72.
"We express our heartfelt gratitude," Trumbull Town Council Chairman Carl A. Massaro Jr. told Chiota. "Who knows how much longer you could have served if not for mandatory retirement age."
Regarding Rowe, Massaro, also an attorney, called the former state representative the "ultimate family man for the family court."
"Love is where family begins and family life is the reason we are here today," Massaro said. Rowe's children, Joseph, James, Gemma and John helped lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
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State and local officials and judges pronounced Rowe the right for the job.
State Probate Court Administrator Paul Knierim said the porbate judge's job is "helping people in the most difficult moment of their lives. He is perfect for this role."
State Senate Minority Leader John McKinney said, "People need to be with someone who has compassion" when discussing probate matters.
State House Minority Leader Larry Cafero recalled Rowe's campaign slogan, "There is no Trumbull without T.R."
Cafero praised him for his "faith, family and service."
Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst said Rowe "raised the bar and set an example" with his community service.
More people like Rowe are needed, added Monroe First Selectman Steve Vavrek. "This is a time when we need faith, family and especially friends."
After all the praise, Rowe said, "I look forward to continuing my career in public service."
"Our Lord has blessed me with friends, family and a wonderful life. Friends, I am enjoying an early Heaven," he said.