Summertime for the five children of former Ramsey County District Judge Roland Faricy Jr. meant piling into their old station wagon and driving the countryside on back roads en route to one of their father’s legal seminars.
Faricy, who died Oct. 19 at a Shoreview nursing home after living for years with Parkinson’s disease, wanted his children to see where people really lived and not glossy tourist areas, according to his daughters.
“As kids we would travel all over,” said Jennifer Lucy, a paralegal who lives in Ham Lake.
Because the trips culminated in their father’s speaking engagements, Beth Benepe, of Newport, recalled him occasionally stopping in remote areas to practice a speech on the side of the road.
From the beginning, the law was central to Faricy’s life. His father, Roland Sr., was part of the Faricy, Burger, Moore, Costello and Hart law firm in St. Paul, which is credited with hiring Warren Burger, the future U.S. Supreme Court chief justice, for whom his son would work.
In June 1968, then-Gov. Harold Levander appointed the 35-year-old Faricy to the Ramsey County bench. Faricy, who earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Minnesota, had already served two years as an assistant U.S. attorney and spent five years in private practice.
Only weeks before his retirement in 1998, Faricy ruled unconstitutional a new welfare law that allowed the state to deny benefits to new Minnesota residents if the number of out-of-state welfare applicants hit a certain threshold. The state moved to overturn the decision but withdrew when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in a California case that was similar to Faricy’s.
In another case, Faricy ruled in 1990 that the Amateur Bowlers Tour had discriminated against Joe Big Bear, a Chippewa Indian, by barring him from a tournament because he wore a ponytail. His ruling upheld a decision by the St. Paul Human Rights Commission that said the tour had discriminated against Big Bear based on his gender; the tour had no rules on the length of women’s hair.
After retiring from the bench, Faricy continued to serve as a senior judge around the state. But his daughters said his true love was juvenile court, especially when finalizing adoptions. Each child got to pick out a stuffed animal from his collection, Lucy said. Faricy also kept a collection of neckties with cartoon characters that he wore to court for the children.
Faricy, a certified scuba driver, loved to perform weddings and once officiated at an underwater ceremony in Square Lake. Another time he dressed as the Tasmanian devil for a Halloween wedding, his children said.
He enjoyed trips to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and loved hunting deer, turkey, pheasants and grouse. He liked to unearth coins and trinkets with his metal detector and dig up old bottles in abandoned outhouses, and enjoyed looking for agates and morel mushrooms.
“He really enjoyed the outdoors,” Lucy said. “Up until last year, he was able to go ice fishing.”
Faricy volunteered in St. Paul’s Hmong community and at the Union Gospel Mission. At the time of his death, he had been sober 41 years and four days.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2007, Faricy’s constant companion and source of comfort in later years was a stuffed Kermit the Frog. In his eulogy, Faricy’s son Chris, of Bellingham, Wash., said Kermit was a “reminder that love is magic and to believe in the connection with each other. Kermit is a lover, a dreamer and so was Dad.”
Besides his children Jennifer, Beth, Chris and Lisa, Faricy is survived by his wife, Sheila, of Shoreview, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Robert. Services have been held.