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Award recipient Fred Mester is flanked by Steve Fladger (left) of the Pontiac Alumni Foundation and the judge’s son, David Mester.

Retired county judge receives Humanitarian of Year Award

By Tom Kirvan
Legal News

Throughout a legal career that spans five decades, retired Oakland County Circuit Judge Fred Mester has embodied the Churchillian belief that “You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.”

His tireless efforts to help others – a wide ranging group that includes disadvantaged youth, returning veterans, the handicapped and infirmed, as well as those trying to make amends after running afoul of the law – were recognized earlier this month at a banquet in Detroit when he was presented with the Humanitarian of the Year Award by RESULTS Mentoring. The local nonprofit organization has been “lending support to underserved urban youth with educational enrichment opportunities since 1999,” according to its founder, Charles Thomas Jr.

“This is a man who stands alone when it comes to the betterment of both the individual and society at large,” said Thomas in praising Judge Mester. “Various awards bearing his name have been created by organizations to honor those who attempt to approximate Judge Mester’s value and contributions.”

An Oakland County Circuit Court judge from 1982 to 2009, Mester currently serves as ombudsman for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. He also is a certified mediator, arbitrator, and facilitator. A veteran of the U.S. Army, where he attained the rank of captain, Mester previously served as court administrator for the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Michigan (1975-82), which followed assignments as chief of the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit and as an attorney with Chrysler Corp.

His impact also has been felt in the field of volunteerism, where he serves as president of the Pontiac Alumni Foundation, an organization dedicated to mentoring youth in the community. Mester, a past president of the Detroit chapter of the Federal Bar Association, formerly served as president of the Central Michigan University Alumni Association, the Reading to Reduce Recidivism program, and the William Booth Legal Aid Clinic.

In his acceptance remarks at the awards banquet, Mester praised the work of RESULTS Mentoring and those who give selflessly to help area youth. In particular, he noted the contributions of Tyrone Jordan, executive assistant to the president of CMU; Steve Fladger, treasurer of the Pontiac Alumni Foundation; and the late Mike Lavoie, a Butzel Long attorney and Peace Corps veteran who spearheaded mentoring efforts at Pontiac High School.

“We are all part of the whole, and the whole is part of us,” Mester said upon accepting the award. “My life is no exception, for if I have made any progress or have achieved any degree of success, it is because of the advice and the guidance by others, and the confidence and the faith in me of many good friends and members of my family.”

In 2006, Mester was honored by the State Bar of Michigan with the Champion of Justice Award. He also has been the recipient of the CMU Centennial Award, the 2006 Women’s Bar Association Award, and the Earl W. Kinter Award for outstanding leadership and service to the FBA.

“Those who know Judge Mester understand that his kindness and desire to help others stem from his ceaseless belief in the underlying power and goodness within each individual,” said Thomas, CEO of RESULTS Mentoring. “He believes in the power of each person to achieve great heights, despite past missteps. He believes in the redemptive power within each person’s soul.”
 

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