The Honorable Loren L. "Buz" Sawyer slipped from the arms of his loving wife, Sandra, into the arms of God on August 31, 2011, leaving his wife, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends who will miss him dearly.
Loren was born in Redmond, Ore., on March 24, 1931. He attended primary school in Redmond, prep school in Portland, Ore., and Salem, Ore., College at Willamette University and Law School at University of Oregon, an Oregon boy through and through. He loved his state and he loved his community. He gave endless hours to promote and improve both. He loved and cared for people from all walks of life. Among his accomplishments is the initiation of Project Misdemeanant, the Jackson County misdemeanor probation program. He was a founder of Star Gulch home for troubled children; an initiator of the Jackson County Alcohol Offender Program; initiator of Jackson County Driver Improvement School; organizer of Jackson County's first drug rehabilitation program; and organizer of Jackson County's Volunteers for Juveniles Program. He also helped organize Jackson County's Little League and Soccer Programs.
In addition he actively served as President of the Board of the Rogue Council Campfire Girls, President of the Board of the YMCA, a member of Southern Oregon State College Regional Advisory Board and Foundation, member of the Carpenter Foundation, the Providence Hospital Ethics Committee, the Jackson County Greenway Foundation, the Board of Directors of the Mt Ashland Ski Area, the Advisory Board of the Alternative Education Program, the Advisory Committee of the Children's Services Division, the Governor's Commission on Judicial Reform, the State Task Force to study state jail needs, the State Board of Education Task Force to study status and needs of state colleges, and the State Jail Overcrowding Project.
Loren loved to teach and shared his skills at Southern Oregon University's Departments of Criminology, Education and Business, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, American Academy of Judicial Education, the National Judicial College, the Five State Judicial Conference, Kentucky Judicial Conference, Mississippi Judicial Conference, Montana Judges Conference, North Dakota Judicial Conference, Arkansas Judicial Conference, Oregon Judges Conference, Nevada Judicial Conference, Oklahoma Judges Conference, Colorado Judges Conference, Oregon State Bar Continuing Legal Education, Oregon Law Institute, Oklahoma City University School of Law and the Oregon Judicial College. He authored numerous articles for legal publications and sections of the Evidence Handbook for use at the National Judicial College.
He was honored as Medford Oregon Safety Council Citizen of the Year, Medford Education Association Award for Service to Education, the National Judicial College Hall of Honor and a certificate of merit from the Exalumnos of the Amistad program of Guanajuato, Mexico.
The youngest appointment to the bench, he was only 29 years old when he became a judge. At his retirement, he was the second longest serving judge in the history of Oregon, having completed 37 years on the bench. He was known for his courage to make difficult and often controversial decisions. As a senior judge, he continued to serve as an arbitrator and mediator.
He was truly and outdoor man and well-known for his love of hiking, back-packing, skiing and bicycling, having ridden his bicycle to work from Ashland to Medford for twenty-five years.
He retired from the U.S. Navy as a Lt. Commander. His warm smile, welcoming personality and the twinkle in his eye will long be remembered.
Buz is survived by his beloved wife, Sandra Sawyer; daughters, Shannon (Mike) Kearney, Lauren (Roland) Muller, Lise' (Russell) Tanner and Whitney (Tam) Johnson-Nguyen; sons, Eric (Cindy) Sawyer, Michael (Lucienne) Sawyer, and Rick Johnson; two exchange students who became his children, Kavinda (Anissa) Arthenayake and Marlies (Mark) Geerdink; grandchildren, Ben, Matthew and Patrick Kearney, Bryce and Anna Muller, Lena, Hannah and Sarah Sawyer, Peyton and Ted Tanner, Victoria and Nicholas Johnson, Kyle and Lauren Arthenayake, and Wolfe, Waldemart and Wende Geerdink; great-grandchildren, Michaela, Declan and Kingston Kearney; and sister, Corinne Porter.
The family extends special thanks to Providence Hospital for the wonderful and loving care they gave Loren and his family during his last days. A Celebration of his life will be held from 2-4 p.m. at the Voorhies Mansion (Edenvale Winery), 2310 Voorhies Road, Medford, OR., Sunday, September 11, 2011. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the Mt. Ashland Give a Kid a Lift Program or The Greenway Foundation.