A line of mourners made their way through the halls of Talawanda High School on Friday evening as hundreds waited to pay their respects to Butler County Common Pleas Judge Craig Hedric.
Hedric, a native of Oxford and a Talawanda and Miami University graduate, died at his Liberty Twp. home Sunday morning. He was 55.
Images of the fun-loving, family-oriented man were projected on a large screen in the school auditorium. Hedric’s wife, Annette, and their two children, Alyssa and Taylor, as well as his parents, Darrell and Jan, and sister, Kim and brother-in-law Phil Morrical, hugged, cried and shared a few laughs as people filed through.
“He was so much more to me than a boss,” said Greg Blankenship, Hedric’s bailiff. The two men struck up perhaps an unlikely friendship 25 years ago when Blankenship was a sheriff’s detective and Hedric was defending a man accused of murder.
“He was my best friend,” Blankenship said. “There will never be another Judge Hedric. He was such a good judge and so much more.”
Many who watched the slide show smiled and wiped away tears as memories of the Hedric they knew were shown. A large photo of Hedric on the bench was on the stage, but Hedric golfing, vacationing, with his children, and holding his dog, Slugger, made up the the slide show.
Those paying respects included county officials, attorneys, law enforcement, friends of Hedric’s children, Oxford community members and judges from throughout the county. The judges donned their robes and took a seat together in the auditorium for the memorial service.
“It is such a great loss for Butler County,” said Charlie Young, county administrator, who stood in line with County Commissioner Don Dixon.
Retired Butler County Judge Michael Sage, Hedric’s close friend and mentor, said, “I was so proud of him.”
Sage said Hedric would want to be remembered as a man devoted to his family and community, “but he was really a great judge.”
The retired judge added that the years Hedric spent as a defense attorney and a prosecutor formed the foundation for his work as a judge.
Sage spoke during the memorial service making many laugh with stories of his early years with Hedric as judge and assistant prosecutor.
“Like many, I was devastated when I heard the news,” Sage said.
Hedric’s children read scriptures during the service, and longtime friend and co-worker, Greg Howard, also spoke.
The Miami Fight Song was performed by the university’s softball family. Hedric’s daughter is a member of that team.
The final song as mourners left the auditorium reflected Hedric’s personality — “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen.
Hedric was elected Judge of the Court of Common Pleas General Division in November 2006 and began serving on the bench on Jan. 3, 2007.
In 1986, Hedric graduated from the University Of Toledo College Of Law and went into private practice in Hamilton.
In January 2001, he became an assistant Butler County prosecuting attorney and remained in that position until being elected judge.
The family has requested that any donations be made in the name of Craig and Annette Hedric to: The Mellen Center at the Cleveland Clinic, 1950 E 89th St, Cleveland, OH 44106; or the ALS Association of Central and Southern Ohio Chapter, 1170 Old Henderson Road, #221, Columbus, OH 43220.