By Kelsie Hoitomt
HUDSON — At the age of 63, with six and half years as a St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge under his belt, Howard W. Cameron says it is time to retire and enjoy the other finer things in life while he still can.
Judge Cameron’s journey to being a Circuit Court Judge began many years ago. He grew up in Rice Lake, Wisconsin along side a family that had several members in Law.
His dad grew up in Chippewa and his mother in Cameron so they found some place to meet in the middle.
It was in Rice Lake that his dad had a law practice along with his uncle. Currently his one brother is in his 32nd year as a Judge in Chippewa County.
In 1970, Howard graduated from Rice Lake High School and then he decided he wanted to go some place different. That brought him to the University of Fairbanks-Alaska.
He was only there for one year before enrolling at UW-Madison where he graduated in 1974.
He graduated with a degree in Agricultural Education, then went to Michigan for a year to work on a dairy farm outside of Detroit.
Following that, he came back and worked in Rice Lake as a feed salesman before he got a job in Spooner. He was a high school Ag teacher for six years there between 1976-82.
In the spring of ’84 he went back to Alaska. He had been dairy farming for two years and decided he needed people in his life because the cows just weren’t much for conversation.
So he went to Alaska and enrolled in a semester of business classes at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Then in May he moved to Palmer, Alaska in the Matanuska Valley to milk cows for the summer. At that time there were only two dairy farms in the valley.
Howard was in Alaska from January to August of 1984. After that he came back to Madison and began classes at the end of August.
It was at this time that he began his journey into Law. He spent three years in Madison earning his Juris Doctorate “J.D” Degree.
In 1987 he graduated with the Law Degree and moved to Osceola with his wife Teresa. They married that same year.
Teresa graduated from Rice Lake in 1973 but they did not meet until 1983, even though he knew her brothers for over 15 years.
Teresa was teaching at the Hudson Middle School at the time and Howard began work at private practice in Osceola.
They moved from Osceola to Hudson in 1993 and started a family. Together they have one daughter who recently graduated from Madison herself and is now putting her education to use in New York.
Howard moved on from Osceola and spent one year doing child support work in Barron County in 1991 and then he began working for the State Public Defender Office, which was a job he held from November of ’91 to 2008.
His job was to represent people who were charged with a criminal offense and did not have the means to support a private lawyer.
He started his public defender work in Spooner and that lasted until 1997 before he was finally transferred to Hudson.
His main office was in Hudson, but that was only a check in place as he spent the majority of his time working in other surrounding counties including Dunn, Pierce and Polk.
Those years of his life he truly enjoyed, not just because of his job, but because he was able to travel across northwest Wisconsin and see what every little town along the way had in store.
He and his wife are looking forward to hitting the country roads and seeing what it brings to their future.
As a public defender, Howard actually appeared in front of each of the current Circuit Court Judges who are now his colleagues; Eric Lundell, Scott Needham and Edward Vlack.
In 2008, the Legislature opened up a new branch position in St. Croix County, which allowed for another Circuit Court Judge to be added.
Howard thought that that was the perfect opportunity to become a judge so he along with four others ran for election. He made it through the primary and won the general election in April of 2008.
He took office in August of 2008 as the Branch IV Circuit Court Judge in St. Croix County.
In his six and a half years as a judge, Howard has seen it all.
Being a smaller county compared to other places in the state like Milwaukee, which has 47 branches instead of four, judges here handle nearly every type of case; criminal, family, plea hearings, etc.
As to be expected not every case is easy to handle. Judge Cameron was the responsible official for the Schaffhausen case, which stood trial for 13 days after Aaron Schaffhausen killed his three children at their home in River Falls.
What makes up for cases like those are adoptions. Judge Cameron has given approval to several families over his years and watched children from all over the world find loving homes.
“It is amazing to be a judge and it really is an honor,” shared Judge Cameron.
With retirement nearing, Howard is looking forward to dedicating more time to his church as he is a Deacon at Saint Patrick’s Parish in Hudson.
While he still feels healthy and can enjoy his experience, Howard and his wife hope to travel across the globe to places like Australia and New Zealand in their next stage of life.