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TCL > December 2011 Issue > In Memoriam

December 2011       Vol. 40, No. 12       Page  88
Notices, Products, and Services

In Memoriam

John S. Castellano
May 19, 1938–November 10, 2011

James R. Chadderdon
d. October 31, 2011, age 68

Philip R. Cockerille
d. June 27, 2011

James Whitney Greene
d. October 2, 2011

Aldo G. Notarianni
d. October 8, 2011, age 86

Luis D. Rovira
September 8, 1923–October 30, 2011

Joseph A. Vento
May 25, 1925–November 4, 2011


Luis D. Rovira

Luis D. Rovira was a good lawyer and great judge and justice. He never really retired, and those who worked with him, even in the last few months of this year, will testify to his abilities and sing his praises.

Lu wanted to live in Colorado, and after distinguished service during World War II when he served with the U.S. Army in the European theater of the conflict, he used the G.I. Bill to bring him to the University of Colorado in Boulder. There, he was active in his social fraternity (Alpha Tau Omega) and was a leader on the Boulder campus, where he was elected student body president.

A few years after graduating from law school, Lu was hired by one of Denver’s oldest and most prestigious law firms, Akolt, Campbell, Turnquest, and Shepherd. As a member of that firm, he became a leading lawyer handling legal matters for The Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Company. No lawyer was more effective or capable in handling matters involving the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

His service to and involvement in the community were as important and as effective as his work as a lawyer. Lu and his wife were the parents of a daughter who suffered from cerebral palsy. His devoted care for her expanded into contributing to the care of all who suffered from similar disabilities.

Politically, Lu was a Republican, but in 1976, a Democrat Governor—recognizing Lu’s abilities, temperament, and reputation—named him a Colorado District Court judge. His ability as jurist was immediately apparent, and the Governor named him to the Colorado Supreme Court a few years later.

Those who serve as Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court are elected to that position by the members of that Court. Predictably, after a few years on the Court, Lu was elected as the Chief Justice by his fellow justices. He served in that role until he was required by Colorado statute to step down and leave the Court at age 72.

Thus began Lu’s final era of contributing to the citizens of Colorado. For the next sixteen years, Lu served as a senior judge, private judge, and arbiter, and as an active member of a group of lawyers doing business as the Judicial Arbiter Group. The judiciary in Colorado will continue to distinguish itself as long as it reflects the personality, abilities, and temperament of Luis Rovira.

Submitted by Laurence W. DeMuth, Jr.


Generous of spirit. Gracious. Patient, insightful, tenacious, and razor-sharp smart. Elegant, charming, and delightfully engaging. Dedicated to the law and the courts.

That’s how colleagues and friends described former Chief Justice Luis Rovira after hearing he had passed away on Sunday, October 30. Even considered together, though, those descriptions don’t fully capture the depth of knowledge, sharp wit, and outgoing personality for which he was known.

Chief Justice Rovira, who was 88, was a trial judge for three years before he served on the Colorado Supreme Court for twenty-six years, from 1979 until 1995. He was selected the state’s forty-first Chief Justice by his colleagues in 1990. When he retired from the Court, Chief Justice Rovira joined Judicial Arbiter Group, Inc. and was very active as a senior judge. In fact, he dissented on a court of appeals opinion just this summer.

Before his appointment to the Denver District Court bench, he spent twenty-six years in the private practice of law. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado (CU) in 1948, and his law degree from CU in 1950. He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 to 1946 and saw combat in France, Holland, and Germany with the 102nd Infantry Division. When he returned to the United States, he served as a reservist in the Judge Advocate General Department in the U.S. Air Force until 1975.

Chief Justice Rovira lived his life passionately devoted to the law and to Colorado’s courts, to other types of public service, and above all, to his family. As he said in an interview for a recent article in the Denver Bar Association’s newsletter, The Docket: "Decide how you are going to live, and stick to it."

He certainly did. In a remarkable legal career, he prompted significant advancements in the operation of the state’s system of justice and played a role in numerous cases that captured the public’s attention and that continue to be cited in court opinions.

In 1951, as a third-year law student, Luis Rovira represented Edward Johnson, an African American man who had been refused service in a barber shop. The case, tried in the Boulder Justice of the Peace Court, ended in mistrial, but it helped spark social change when student demonstrations pressured barbers to serve African American customers. "We won the case by losing," Rovira told The Docket.

A few years later, he was one of eleven attorneys appointed by a federal judge to represent the seven "Reds"—alleged members of the Communist Party charged with conspiring to overthrow the government by force. The trial lasted sixty days and represented an outstanding example of an attorney’s pro bono service long before it became fashionable.

During his tenure as Chief Justice, he authored the majority opinion in Romer v. Evans, the 1994 case overturning Amendment 2, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Romer, the Colorado Supreme Court held that the voter-approved constitutional amendment, which prohibited state and local governments from passing laws protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination, was unconstitutional.

Chief Justice Rovira’s contributions to public service extended well beyond the courts; he was a trustee for the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation; he served on the boards of the Metropolitan Association for Retarded Children, Ridge Association for Retarded Citizens, and United Cerebral Palsy; and he served as president of the Association for Retarded Citizens in Colorado from 1968 to 1970. He also helped start the John F. Kennedy Child Development Center.

His wife, Lois Ann Rovira, established the Chief Justice Luis D. Rovira Scholarship for outstanding scholarship in constitutional law at the CU Law School. Since the first award was made in 1998, the scholarship has helped twenty-one students obtain their law degrees.

"The present seems like forever to those of us who occupy it," Rovira said on July 2, 1990, just after he was sworn in as Chief Justice. "But all too soon future generations will be appraising our work, and when they do, I hope that they will say of our judiciary, in this time, that we did our job well."

Now, twenty-one years later, we can look back with the benefit of time and hindsight and know that, indeed, Luis Rovira, both in the courts and out, did his job extraordinarily well. He will be greatly missed.

—Submitted by Michael L. Bender
Chief Justice, Colorado Supreme Court


Sheldon Silverman

Sheldon Silverman passed away on March 19, 2011. He is missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.

After serving in the U.S. Army, Silverman received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Denver. After graduation in 1951, he opened his law practice, sharing an office in the Symes Building with his father, attorney Harry L. Silverman.

Silverman began doing legal work for young homebuilders who began to operate under the name Perl-Mack. The Perl-Mack work expanded so that Perl-Mack became Silverman’s sole client. He provided a full range of legal services for Perl-Mack and, later, Jordon Perlmutter & Co. as they developed the Denver metropolitan area, including homes, schools, streets, bridges, apartments, office buildings, community centers, neighborhood shopping centers, auto parks, and regional shopping centers. Residential projects included the Perl-Mack area in Adams County, Northglenn, Southglenn, and Montbello. Regional shopping centers included the Northglenn Mall, Southglenn Mall, Southwest Plaza Shopping Center, Bowles Crossing, and Belleview Shores.

He provided a wide range of services for the companies, including land acquisition, entitlements, financing to contracting for construction, forming metropolitan districts, leasing, and the eventual sale of the property. He litigated significant land use cases, such as Ambrosio v. Perlmutter Const. Co., 351 P.2d 803 (Colo. 1960) (affirming the right of an upstream landowner to channel its water drainage into a downstream landowner’s property), and King’s Mill Homeowners Ass’n v. City of Westminster, 557 P.2d 1186 (Colo. 1976) (the imposition of specific development requirements in connection with a rezoning is not impermissible "contract zoning"). Silverman retired in 2006, having practiced law in Colorado for fifty-five years.

He was predeceased by his wife, Barbara. He is survived by his sons, attorneys Craig Silverman and William Silverman; his daughter, Nancy Kay, DVM; and eight grandchildren.

Submitted by William S. Silverman

The In Memoriam section lists the name, date of birth where available, and date of death of deceased attorneys, JDs, judges, and legal professionals. Reader-submitted tributes of deceased attorneys and legal professionals, including those listed at the top of the In Memoriam section, are welcomed. Tributes should provide information about the deceased’s legal career. Photographs are encouraged. Tributes will be published as space is available and as the publication schedule allows. Send tributes and notices about recently deceased attorneys to Tracy Rackauskas at

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