Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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The Honorable Robert L. Levister, of Stamford, the first black member of the Connecticut Superior Court, died on October 17, 1992. He was seventy-four years old.
Judge Levister was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, on October 25, 1918, the son of Robert L. and Emma Levister. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1939. He served in the United States Army during World War II. Following his military service, he enrolled in the Boston University Law School, where he earned his law degree in 1949. He was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar that same year.
Judge Levister practiced law in Boston from 1949 to 1955, at which time he moved to Stamford. He was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 1956 and became Stamford's first black lawyer. He entered city politics and became an outspoken leader on civil rights issues, practicing law there until his appointment to the bench.
Judge Levister was appointed by Governor John N. Dempsey to be a judge of the Circuit Court in 1965. He became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1974 and was elevated to the Superior Court by Governor Ella Grasso in 1976. During his tenure on the Superior Court, he served as administrative judge of the Stamford-Norwalk judicial district from 1978 to 1984. Judge Levister elected senior status in 1984 and reached the mandatory retirement age in 1988, after which he continued to serve the Judicial Branch as a state trial referee.
Judge Levister served on numerous boards in Stamford and at the state level. He was president of the Connecticut Council on Human Rights, a member of the state Board of Mental Health, the state study Commission on the Status of Women and the planning council for the Governor's Council on Human Rights and Opportunities.
Judge Levister was predeceased by his first wife, Lerlaine, who died in 1986. He is survived by his second wife, Clarice A. Levister, three sisters and two brothers.