Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

Judge Philip Faris

Mar. 29, 1925 - Dec. 9, 2018


December 13, 2018

Philip H. Faris

Philip H. Faris

Philip H. Faris (93) passed away in his sleep just before midnight December 9, 2018, at Royal Park Retirement Center. The funeral service in Spokane will be at 10:00 am, Wednesday, December 19, 2018, at Fairmount Memorial Park. A separate time to remember him will be held in Colfax at 3:00 pm the same day in The Center at Colfax Library. (Further info from [email protected])

Phil Faris was born March 29, 1925, in Cambridge, Idaho, and moved often, since his father was a school superintendent and science teacher and basketball coach. His father and grandfather both died during the Depression when Phil was 12, but not before passing on an intense love for learning and books (except books by Charles Dickens.) Phil's autobiography suggested that he was scarred by these early family deaths and trials and that he never subsequently had much patience for emotional drama, whether in the family or in the courtroom. He also speculated that his ideas about love came from the author Alexander Dumas.

When WWII started, Phil and his mom moved to Portland, Oregon, where his stepfather worked as a chief welder building Liberty Ships. His stepfather had been in the Navy in the 20's and said there was no other branch of the service worth its salt-so Phil kept pestering Navy recruiters, who were only drafting enlisted men and not accepting volunteers, until they funneled him into the V-12 officer training program. This simply involved going to college at Gonzaga University in Spokane while wearing a uniform and attracting girls, in particular, Mary Jane Linder (Lindy), who became his wife. Married life consisted of immediately moving to San Diego and preparing to board a Navy destroyer headed for Japan to support the planned invasion of the home islands. But the war ended and Phil walked through the ruins of Nagasaki as a tourist instead, though still wearing a Navy uniform.

Thanks to the GI Bill and hard work, Phil graduated from the University of Washington Law School. But, having been kids from small towns, Phil and Lindy decided to move to Colfax and begin a law practice-and stayed for more than 60 years! Thinking back on that time, Phil once wrote, "The law schools won't admit that they don't really educate lawyers; so most young law school graduates figure out the hard way that they don't know anything important." That didn't stop him, however, from working as a County Prosecutor for 10 years and Superior Court Judge another 20. About being a Judge, Phil wrote: "I never did get used to the fact that the public was so ignorant of how a Judge is supposed to function. Litigants, the public and the press have begun to make political attacks on Judges. They assume that a Judge's personal opinions about a case can influence his decisions." A Judge's decisions, however, CAN influence America. In 1982, Judge Faris issued a landmark decision in a case concerning equal funding for college women's sports programs and Title IX.

Phil and Lindy had two sons. Scott, the elder, died in 1991 due to complications related to diabetes. About Philip, the younger, Judge Faris wrote: "I know I was deliberately strict with him over things, not because he seemed to need it, but because I didn't want him to have things too easy. That's not the way life usually is." He was right, of course, because as he was writing this point of view, colon cancer had grown to the point that his doctor told him he had only six weeks to live. That was in 1993. Now, 25 years later and in remission, he has enjoyed those six weeks to the fullest. He returned to ocean sailing while still on chemotherapy to "make the most of his remaining days."

If we went on to tell of his travels abroad, spawned by reading Frommer's, "Europe on $5 a day," or his fine arts career as a painter of landscapes, or of his hunting prowess...well, that ended after 15 minutes when the elk rifle accidentally went off in the parking lot..., there wouldn't be any room for news in this newspaper.

Judge Faris is survived by his son, Phil, and daughter-in-law, Melody Faris of Spokane; grandchildren, Paul Faris of San Francisco, and Grace Kalista of Medford, and their spouses, Beth Faris and Randy Kalista. And of course, his seven and eight year-old great-granddaughters, Zoe Faris and Estelle Kalista.


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