BY JON WYSOCHANSKI
ASHTABULA — The Honorable Judge Thomas D. Lambros died unexpectedly Tuesday in Florida where he resided during the winter months.
Lambros, 89, an Ashtabula native, Democrat and son of Greek immigrants, became Ohio’s youngest attorney at the age of 22 and ran for Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court judge just eight years later. In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Lambros to be federal judge for the Northern District of Ohio, a position he held for 34 years.
Lambros graduated from the Cleveland Marshall Law School in 1952 and received an honorary doctorate of law from Capital University in 1991.
Chris Kidner, Lambros’ son-in-law who had talked to him on the phone at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, said the death was unexpected and the judge apparently collapsed later in the day while walking. Lambros was an active individual even in his later years, Kidner said, and it would take an entire newspaper to tell of all the good he did for his community.
As a federal judge, Lambros made innovative approaches to case management, trial proceedings and dispute resolution. As the son of Greek immigrants, he took special interest in naturalization and had the honor of officiating at the naturalization ceremonies of countless immigrants. He was also a respected author and lecturer.
Local officials said the death of Lambros represents a tremendous loss to the area. Sheriff William Johnson said Lambros left a “true legacy.”
“He was quite the federal judge,” Johnson said. “He was always willing to help everyone out. He will be missed — that’s for sure.”
Jim Timonere, a paralegal for the Timonere Law Offices and former Ashtabula city solicitor, made a post on social media which said Lambros “was a staunch defender of the underdog and a true Democrat in the tradition of the party when it was known for fighting for legitimate personal rights, labor, and free expression.”
“There are no words adequate for me to describe the respect I have for Tommy Lambros as a friend, Judge, and man,” Timonere wrote. “I wish him a safe journey home and I send condolences to his family who must endure the loss of this loving man and American hero.”
Debbie Newcomb, chair of the Ashtabula County Democratic Party, said Lambros was always a strong supporter of the Democratic party and he was extremely focused on community and family, Newcomb said.
“He was just that kind of person you respected because of his beliefs and attitude,” she said.
Eli Kalil, a businessman who is active in the Democratic party, said Lambros sometimes visited people he sentenced in an effort to try to walk them through their hardships.
“He was just a great guy and someone who really did care about all of humanity,” Kalil, who considered Lambros a mentor, said.
J.P. Ducro, a Republican who is president of the Ashtabula County Board of Commissioners, said Lambros was a longtime friend of the Ducro family and a true “class act.”
“He was a tremendous leader and very gifted speaker,” Ducro said. “He was a friend to many and a tremendous asset to his profession. The work he did with the Ashtabula Lakeside Harbor Alumni Association was much appreciated.”
Lambros was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Shirley, and he is survived by daughter Lesley Lambros Kidner and son Todd Lambros of Oklahoma City and six grandchildren.
There will be no funeral service or calling hours and only a private ceremony for family, Kidner said.