U.S. District Court Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz

One of the most respected and admired judges in Illinois history

U.S. District Court Judge Abraham Lincoln MarovitzU.S. District Court Judge Abraham Lincoln Marovitz, a 1925 graduate of Chicago-Kent, passed away on March 17, 2001 after serving as a government prosecutor, state senator, and state and federal judge. He saw active duty as a marine in World War II, swore in more new U.S. citizens than any judge in the country, administered the oath of office to both Mayor Daleys, and escorted World's Fair fan dancer Sally Rand to the opening of the Palmer House's Empire Room in 1933.

As a teenager, the judge worked days as an office boy at a Chicago law firm, earning extra money at night by boxing a few rounds at the local men's smokers. Two of the firm's junior partners were ringside one night when the judge was knocked down several times in the first round. The next morning the firm's senior partner called young Marovitz into his office. Informing him that he had no future in boxing, the partner handed him a check and sent him over to Kent College of law to enroll in night school. The rest, of course, is history.

In an interview, Marovitz said, "If I hadn't been extended a helping hand, I'd have wound up a punch-drunk prizefighter instead of a federal judge." Motivated by the support he received and a deeply ingrained belief in charity, Judge Abe established the Honorable Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Scholarship in 1987. The scholarship supported students with significant financial need who demonstrate a devotion to the law and a willingness to contribute to the community. Since his death in 2001, the scholarship has become the Marovitz Public Interest Award, given to recently graduated alumni in support of their work in public interest.

Professor and Chicago-Kent historian Ralph Brill interviewed Marovitz on camera about his life and career two years ago. Professor Brill, a member of the faculty for more than 35 years, said:

"I was one of the fortunate few—1600—of his closest friends, whom he invited to celebrate his 90th birthday. There were judges, political figures, celebrities, of course, but there were also cab drivers, and doormen, and immigrants he had joyfully sworn in as citizens of the country he so dearly loved.

"It is hard to believe that I and others will not be able to hear Judge Abe tell stories of his upbringing, of his beloved parents, and the lessons he learned from them, and by which he lived his life. From someone else, many of these would have sounded hollow, or as clichés, but to know Judge Abe one knew that he was absolutely sincere when he said that people "must learn to disagree without being disagreeable"; or "everybody can't do big things, but we all can do little things that help others." 

Click here for information on Judge Marovitz's Memorial Service.