Retired Chief Judge Bernard Devine of the Maine District Court, who was known for his firm yet compassionate approach with Maine’s youths, died Dec. 11. He was 92.

Mr. Devine was remembered by loved ones Tuesday as a distinguished judge who devoted his life to family, his faith and the community.

Mr. Devine earned his law degree from Boston University Law School in 1952, then joined his brother and father in the firm Devine, Devine & Devine on Exchange Street in Portland.

His judicial career began in 1956 when he was appointed a judge at the former South Portland Municipal Court. He worked in that capacity until the Maine District Court was established in 1965. He became chief judge in the ninth district in 1981.

As judge and chief judge, Devine presided in district courts in each of Maine’s 16 counties.

“Ben Devine was the epitome of a district court judge, lending his warm but firm approach to the brand new district court at a time when it truly needed judges of depth and integrity,” Chief Justice Leigh Saufley said in a statement. “In addition to being thoughtful, compassionate and kind, he was truly a gentleman. For so many of us who had the honor of practicing in the courts where Judge Devine presided, he set the tone for all participants.”

A hallmark of Devine’s career was his work with at-risk youths. His son John Devine reflected Tuesday on the impact he had on young people who stood before him. The judge believed in the innate goodness of everyone, his son said.

“Back in the day, he meted out justice in his own way in his chambers, one-on-one with juveniles,” his son said. “He would bring them into his chambers as opposed to a big public setting, where he could impart words of advice and strong encouragement with a caveat, ‘I don’t way to see you before me again.’ ”

In 2001, the Maine Judicial Branch recognized him for his “faithful and dedicated service” to the children of Maine.

Mr. Devine retired in 1990, but remained an active retired judge through 2004. When he retired, the Maine District Court in Portland was named after him.

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Devine was all about family. He was a loving husband to Anne Devine for 60 years and a devoted father to their four children. The couple lived in South Portland and were active in the community.

His son said their life was a wonderful 60 years of traveling, friendships, and family rites of passage. He attended all of his children and grandchildren’s sporting events and performances.

“He was always there,” his son said. “He would always encourage us to participate and do our best. When that wasn’t enough, he was the first person to give us a shoulder when things didn’t go our way.”

Mr. Devine was an avid golfer and member of the Portland Country Club for more than 50 years. He was a sports enthusiast and loved animals.

His primary focus, especially in retirement, was being with family.

“Family was paramount,” his son said. “He was devoted to his kids, especially his grandkids. He was their biggest fan. … He set a great example. He possessed all the traits of a man I aspire to be as a husband, father, friend and law partner.”

A Mass will be celebrated in his honor at 11 a.m. Friday at Holy Martyrs Catholic Church in Falmouth. Interment will be private.

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MelanieCreamer

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