Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Dwight Loomis, born July 27th, 1821, in Columbia, Tolland county, was the son of Capt. Elam Loomis, a respected farmer. His mother, Mary Pinneo, was of French descent. His first ancestor in this country was Joseph Loomis, who came from England in 1638 and settled in Windsor. His general education was gained in the public schools of his native town, and in the academies at Munson and Amherst, Mass. After teaching for some years, he began the study of law in the spring of 1844 with Hon. John H. Brockway of Ellington, completed it in the Yale Law School, was admitted to the bar in Tolland county, in 1847, and, associated with Mr. Brockway, commenced practice in the then village of Rockville, the first of his profession to locate there. He soon gained public confidence and professional success. He represented Vernon in the General Assembly in 1851, the twenty-first senatorial district in 1857, was a delegate to the Republican National Convention at Philadelphia in 1856, and the representative of the first district in the thirty-sixth Congress, and again in the thirty-seventh after a unanimous renomination. The larger part of his service in Congress was during a time of national distraction and peril, and Mr. Loomis was found among the most steadfast and able members who loyally upheld the Union. He was elected a judge of the Superior Court in 1864, reelected in 1872, became a judge of the Supreme Court of Errors in 1875, and thus remained until disqualified by age. After leaving the bench he was chosen a State referee, and held the office the rest of his life. Yale University conferred on him the degree of LL. D. in 1896. In 1892 he removed from Rockville to Hartford.
Happily his life was active to the very last. Judicial service ended, his counsel and aid in legal matters were much sought, but he did not act as advocate. He arbitrated some important questions, was for a time a lecturer in Yale Law School, wrote the Judicial and Civil History of Connecticut in collaboration with J. Gilbert Calhoun, and discharged all his duties as a State referee. It was during his return from a hearing in that capacity at Torrington, that, by a sudden stroke, the end came September 17th, 1903.
Judge Loomis brought to the bench an uncommon union of fitting qualities. With a competent knowledge of law and a natural love of justice were joined an accurate legal perception, the habit of thorough investigation, and a rare judicial temperament. He was ready of comprehension, patient in hearing, deliberate of decision, dignified without assumption, considerate of every one, clear in rulings and charges to juries, administering justice with due respect of law but with all practicable kindness, and an impartiality never suspected, for it was beyond reach. He had that industry which answered every call of duty, and possessed no disturbing frailties of temper.
Nature, learning and character combined to qualify him as a trial judge, and to win for him the highest esteem and confidence. His able and important service in the Supreme Court will now best appear from those reported opinions of the court written by him. They are vigorous, logical, confined to the decided points, and usually cite supporting authorities. They satisfy the student, for they leave no doubt of their meaning or scope, being free from cumbrous elaboration and confusing rhetoric, while they show the clear thinker and the broad and learned jurist. A good example is the opinion in Regan v. New York & New England Railroad Co., 60 Conn. 124.
The professional and public life of Judge Loomis illustrated his private life and character. He was modest, with the simple manners of earlier days, a regular and generous supporter of good objects, making moral and religious principles his law of life. Without conceit or self-assertion, he was independent in opinion, with abundant will and energy in action. Always found in the way of duty, with a sound and dispassionate judgment, he was a trusted example, and exerted a wide and worthy influence.
His social nature was domestic rather than general, and found its greatest enjoyment in his home. Yet he was genial, hospitable, a firm friend, and interesting in conversation, where good sense was enlivened by a quaint and copious humor. Diversions show a person's tastes better than vocation. Judge Loomis relished nothing coarse. He enjoyed nature, travel and music, loved flowers and their culture, and in their season they beautified his home. He was familiar with poetry, and was ready with an apt quotation from a favorite author. Under favorable circumstances he might have been "one of the rhyming race," for he had the gift of easy versification, mostly shown in letters to his daughter, which were always in rhyme.
It was consistent that a life so pure, useful and honorable, found age "as a lusty winter."