Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Walter Holcomb, son of Carlos and Adah Lavina (Bushnell) Holcomb, was born at New Hartford on October 13th, 1853. He died at his home in Torrington on August 17th, 1938. Mr. Holcomb was the youngest of a family of six children - five brothers and one sister. The brother next older than Walter was Marcus Hensey Holcomb, affectionately known during his long term of Governor of Connecticut as "Uncle Marcus." Of this family only the sister, Adah Adeline Holcomb Weaver, survives.
Known always as Walter to all of his contemporaries of the bench and bar of Connecticut, he was educated in the public schools of New Hartford, at the Connecticut Literary Institute of Suffield, the Lewis Academy of Southington, and at Sheffield Scientific School, Yale University, graduating in 1877 with the degree of Ph.B.
His first employment was that of principal of the South Center School, Southington, and while thus engaged he studied law in the office of his brother Marcus H. Holcomb. After being admitted to the Litchfield County bar in 1881, he migrated to the West and was employed as a railroad construction engineer in Missouri and Arkansas, and later he became construction engineer of the St. Paul-Minnesota water works. He practiced law at St. Paul from 1884 to 1896, when he returned to Connecticut and opened a law office at Torrington. This practice he continued until his death.
After having served one term as town clerk, he represented Torrington in the General Assembly at the session of 1905, serving as a member of the judiciary committee. He was city attorney for ten years and judge of the local court of Torrington from 1903 to 1917, when he was appointed state's attorney for Litchfield County. In this important office he served for a period of seventeen years, resigning as of July 1st, 1934. His whole career in public life extended over a period of thirty-six years and was notable throughout, but as state's attorney his political integrity and high regard for the traditions of the bench of Connecticut were known to all. He was fearless, knew nothing of evasions, yet he was strong, big hearted and kind. Mr. Holcomb's long record as state's attorney for his county is deserving of the great praise which it has received.
In the life of his community he was active and public-spirited, being engaged continuously in church, Sunday school, musical, lodge and bar association work.
In 1888 Mr. Holcomb married Edith Adelia (Sanford) Holcomb, who died in 1934. Three children were born of this marriage, two of whom, Carlos Sanford Holcomb, a member of the Hartford and Litchfield County bars and for several years trust officer of the First National Bank of Hartford, and Ada Caroline (Holcomb) Roberts, survive their father.
Walter Holcomb's personality was that of the individualist type. All knew him as he actually was. He was content to let the world put its own appraisal upon his work and his worth. As a lawyer, he was vigorous and forceful, but he was kind in spirit, never losing opportunity to assist and encourage the younger members of the bar, who always felt free to approach him, wherever he might be, with their difficulties and problems. He loved truth and justice, and fought for it to the end of his allotted time. As a lawyer, Mr. Holcomb prepared his cases with a thorough understanding of the principles involved. He discriminated keenly, tried his cases in a manner to inspire the highest measure of confidence of the court and jury. His rugged integrity and candor were among his outstanding and observable personal characteristics. Judge Holcomb had the esteem and confidence of his associates at the bench and bar to a high degree. He was known throughout Connecticut, but more intimately of course among his immediate associates of the Litchfield County bar, who realize that in his passing they have lost a great leader, a helpful and commanding figure. He was of the old school, loved the law, and gave all he had toward applying it to the complexities of human affairs.