Former judge, family lawyer dies at age 87

Don McCartin, a former Orange County Superior Court judge who lived and practiced law in Costa Mesa, has died.

McCartin was surrounded by family when he died Saturday at his home in Bass Lake, Calif. He was 87.

He practiced family law in Costa Mesa from 1957 to 1978. On April 2, 1978, Don, a longtime Republican, was appointed to the Orange County Superior Court by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

During his tenure on the bench, he presided over many infamous criminal cases that resulted in nine death-row convictions.

After retiring in 1993, he moved to Bass Lake and filled in whenever needed as a judge in the mountain area near Yosemite.

Don was born on April 21, 1925, in Minneapolis to Ruth and Aaron McCartin. Don attended high school through the eleventh grade and then entered Macalester College in Minnesota a year early.

One year later, he attended Dubuque College in Iowa for the ROTC program. After a four-month midshipman program at Northwestern University in Chicago, and at the age of 19, Don was commissioned in the Navy as an ensign.

He served during World War II aboard the USS Tennessee, sailing around the world. While inactive in the military, he graduated from Macalester in 1947.

During the Korean War, Don was reactivated in the Navy, serving on the USS St. Paul as a lieutenant under Executive Officer John McCain Sr.

Don left the Navy in 1952 and entered law school at the University of Minnesota, passing the bar in 1955. The next year he moved with his young family to California and passed the State Bar of California in 1957.

The judge was an avid tennis player, bicyclist and duplicate bridge player, achieving the position of Silver Life Master. His quiet generosity toward people and dogs is well known throughout the Bass Lake area.

Don is survived by his wife of 39 years, Karen, and his first wife, Ruth McCartin. He leaves four sons: Mike, Mark, Casey and Duff, two stepdaughters, Tracy Colla and Cheri Carpenter, 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be given to Eastern Madera SPCA, P.O. Box 1314 Oakhurst, CA 93644 c/o No Kill Shelter, or the Hinds Hospice in Fresno.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 29 at Our Lady of the Sierra Catholic Church in Oakhurst. A celebration of life will follow in the Lakeview Room at the Pines Resort in Bass Lake.

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