With tears in his eyes, Fred Foreman said goodbye to his "home away from home" for the past 40 years and retired as a Lake County judge.
During a 55-minute ceremony in Waukegan, Foreman thanked his family, colleagues and friends for supporting him during his legal career that took him as high as a U.S. attorney and chief judge of the 19th Judicial Circuit of Lake County.
"I would not have been able to do this without the support of my family," he said, voice cracking as he looked at his wife, Stephanie. "Every time I had a difficult decision to make in my professional life, she was consulted."
Foreman first entered the Lake County government center in Waukegan as an intern for the public defender's office in 1973, a year before graduating from John Marshall Law School in Wisconsin.
He served as an assistant public defender and assistant state's attorney before being elected Lake County state's attorney in 1980.
He was appointed by then-President George H.W. Bush as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, serving from 1990 to 1993.
He went into private practice for about a decade before being elected to the Lake County bench in 2003. He was elected chief judge by his peers in 2012.
Foreman received plaques during Friday's ceremony from the Lake County state's attorney's office, the judges of the 19th Judicial Circuit, and the Lake County sheriff's office, among others.
Many well wishers -- including Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim, retired judges Jane Waller and Raymond McKoski, and former state's attorney Michael Waller -- spoke during the ceremony.
"Judge, you truly made a difference in Lake County, and that's what is significant about your career," Lake County Undersheriff Raymond Rose said before naming Foreman an honorary sheriff's deputy.
Judge John Phillips took over as chief judge Jan. 6. Foreman's departure has led to an associate judge vacancy that will be filled via appointment, officials said.
Foreman's career highlights include serving as part of a team of lawyers that helped negotiate the national tobacco settlement and as a special assistant Illinois attorney general.
Foreman said he has a "bucket list" of things he'd like to do in retirement, including travel and serving charitable interests in and around Lake County.
As was always his way, Foreman patted others on the back for a job well done.
"You all should be commended for the things you do for the citizens of Lake County," he said to close out his speech.