Street sign honors longtime Rolling Meadows presiding judge
Twenty-four years after minor-league baseball player-turned-Cook County jurist James A. Geocaris retired as presiding judge of Rolling Meadows Third Municipal District, his presence still looms large.
More than 75 judges and former judges, attorneys, Cook County commissioners, sheriff's deputies and courthouse employees attended Friday's dedication of a street honoring him in front of the courthouse he helped establish.
"This is one of the happiest days of my life because of my family," said Geocaris, 89.
Thanking the enthusiastic crowd, he described the newly commemorated "Honorary Judge Geocaris Way" as a "wonderful legacy" to his late wife, Naomi; their five sons; and his Greek immigrant parents who raised and educated eight children despite losing everything in the Great Depression.
A native of Chicago's Englewood neighborhood and a University of Chicago graduate, Geocaris played minor-league baseball for the Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers and Cleveland Indians from 1947 to 1950.
After realizing he'd never turn pro, he enrolled in DePaul University's College of Law. After graduating, he joined the Marine Corps Judge Advocate Division.
After 10 years in private practice, he was appointed a magistrate in 1966, then associate judge and finally presiding judge of the Third District in 1976, where he remained until retiring in 1995.
Third District Presiding Judge Jill Cerone-Marisie said she was a prosecutor in 1993 when Geocaris was presiding there.
"Twenty-six years later, he's prosecuting and I'm presiding," said Cerone-Marisie, referencing Geocaris' tenure as Rolling Meadows' city prosecutor.
The courthouse is "very personal" to Geocaris
"I worked so many years without a building," he said, referring to the many years when Third District judges and personnel traveled between municipal buildings and police stations to hear cases.
That changed when the Euclid Avenue courthouse opened in 1989. Geocaris recalled his contribution from the design to the furniture selection to the skylight he insisted be included.
"We have to have light in the building. ... It gives you a good feeling," he said.
He got his way.