Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

June 13, 2013

Judge’s ties to PV last a lifetime

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat — For John Blake his start here in Pauls Valley has lasted a lifetime.

Blake announced recently he will step down as Garvin County’s associate district judge on July 31 after serving in the office for nine years.

Before that Blake spent nearly four decades in a PV based law practice that’s seen just about kind of case imaginable.

His ties to Pauls Valley go back even further. A long connection to this place started for Blake, now 68 years old, when he was born here. Even his longtime wife Susanne was born in PV.

That connection runs even deeper as shown by a quick glimpse of his family tree.

Blake’s mother was from nearby Foster and once served as a deputy court clerk here, while his father was reared in Pauls Valley.

Stepping back one generation his grandfather served here as a U.S. marshal, while his grandmother was once the elected court clerk for Garvin County.

Then there’s Blake, who after earning his law degree from the University of Oklahoma chose to return to his roots.

“After law school I could go anywhere, but I wanted to come back to Pauls Valley,” Blake said.

“I came back and hung up my shingle here because I wanted to raise my family here,” he said in a reference to his law practice, which started in a small office on Paul Avenue.

“I had a cubby-hole, a typewriter, four books and a filing cabinet. When I had my first client I put the number one on that folder, I dropped it in that cabinet and I can still remember the clanking sound it made in that empty cabinet. Now I’ve got so may files they go to the ceiling.”

Blake’s career as an attorney wound up stretching a total of 39 years before he was appointed the associate district judge here back in 2004.

“I’ve done everything from jaywalking to the defense of a capital murder case. I feel like I’ve done it all.”

Even with a passion for the law the decision that “now’s the time” to retire is really centered on Blake’s passion for others things.

For Blake that passion includes art.

“I’ve always had a passion for the law, and I have a passion for art.”

His favorite is trying his hand at what he calls a “Rembrandt style” of painting.

“I don’t have any illusions about being a great artist, but it is what I love,” he said.

That passion is so strong he is having a house near his own here in PV converted into an art studio.

Ironically he adds it’s the same house once occupied by the grandparents of Garvin County’s former district judge, Candace Blalock.

“Even though I’m going to the house,” he said about his retirement, “hopefully I will find new passion.

“Whatever that is it’s about community service and I don’t plan on that coming to an end. As you get older there are unique opportunities for service.”

He plans on partnering with his wife in that passion for service.

“We don’t know what project or need will come up, but we’ll tackle it in any way we can contribute.”

Blake’s departure from the bench also means the chance to travel and spend more time with his children and grandchildren living in California, Texas and Wyoming.

The process of naming Blake’s replacement with a governor’s appointment is expected to soon begin.