Former Chatham judge dead at 60

Feb. 20, 2013 @ 07:25 PM

Page Vernon, who served as a district court judge for Orange and Chatham counties, died Wednesday morning of cancer.

Chief Resident District Court Judge Joe Buckner said she died at her home with her husband and close friends at her side. She had been gravely ill, and her death was not unexpected.

Vernon, 60, served as a district court judge for District 15B from 2008 to 2011, when she retired.

"Judge Vernon was the consummate district court judge,” Buckner said. “Page was hardworking, fair, firm and compassionate. She had an extra special spot in her heart for children facing challenges. It was the highest privilege to serve with her."

Vernon had two grown sons.

She dedicated her life to helping children and specialized in juvenile law.

Vernon served on the Orange-Chatham Juvenile Crime Prevention Council from 1992 through 2002 and was a founding board member of the Chatham County Education Fund, a nonprofit to foster excellence in the Chatham County Schools.

She also volunteered in schools and served as a volunteer mentor for Chatham County Together, a nonprofit focused on assisting at-risk youth in Chatham County.

From 2005 until 2008, when she was elected to be a district court judge, Vernon concentrated her professional work on providing assistance directly to children as a guardian ad litem for minors involved in the court system, rejoining the Orange-Chatham Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and supervising UNC law students working under the Domestic Violence Advocacy Project.

The 15B Bench and Bar nominated Vernon for induction into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

“Judge Vernon’s contributions throughout her career are characterized by a unique grace and generous heart that dignified and elevated the lives of citizens and the work of her colleagues in public service,” said the nomination letter from the 15B Bar and Bench to Gov. Pat McCrory. “She exemplifies those qualities of service recognized by induction into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Over her career Judge Vernon personified the virtues of citizenship, legal professionalism, and judicial service in a manner that inspires all those who have known and worked with her in the administration of justice.”

Vernon was honored Feb. 3 by a presentation of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, for her 30 years of service in the courts, schools, and communities of Orange and Chatham Counties.

A 1980 graduate of Santa Clara University Law School, Vernon began her legal career in 1981 as an assistant district attorney in Judicial District 15B, serving Orange and Chatham Counties through 1984, specializing in juvenile law.

In 1984 and 1985, she worked at the UNC School of Government, editing manuals for statewide use by prosecutors, clerks and judges.

Vernon then joined the law firm of Barber Bradshaw & Vernon in Pittsboro, where she practiced through 2002.

From 2003 through 2005, Vernon worked at the Juvenile Criminal Law Clinic at the UNC School of Law and then at the Duke University School of Law’s Children’s Education Law Center.