The unexpected death of Honourable Justice Graham Richard Wakefield on November 30, 2023, shocked the legal world and beyond. Justice Wakefield was 67 years old, and his sudden passing left a vacuum that will be felt by his friends, family, coworkers, and the communities he served. His life, accomplishments, and the influence he had during his illustrious legal career are all honoured in this article.
Early Years and Passion for the Law
From a young age, Graham Wakefield’s path in life seemed destined for the legal realm. Inspired by the iconic Perry Mason TV series, he found his calling and pursued a career in law with unwavering determination. In 1981, he proudly graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School, marking the beginning of a journey that would shape the legal landscape in profound ways.
Legal Career and Commitment to Justice
In 1983, Justice Wakefield was called to the bar, focusing his practice on criminal law. Throughout his career, he demonstrated an unwavering commitment to justice, becoming a respected figure in legal circles. His dedication extended beyond the courtroom, as he actively contributed to the legal community’s betterment.
Justice Wakefield’s impact was not confined to courtrooms alone. His commitment to ensuring access to justice led him to become a member of the Legal Aid Ontario committee, where he worked tirelessly to advocate for fairness and equality within the legal system. Additionally, he played a crucial role in the Durham Youth Justice Network committee, addressing issues affecting young individuals involved with the law.
His passion for community service was evident in his involvement with the Durham Region Violence Prevention Council and the Barbra Black Centre for Youth Resources. Through these initiatives, Justice Wakefield sought to create safer and more supportive environments for vulnerable members of society.
Judicial Appointment and Oshawa Legacy
In 2008, Justice Wakefield reached a significant milestone in his career when he was appointed as an Ontario Court Judge in Oshawa. His judicious decisions, fair-minded approach, and commitment to upholding the principles of justice earned him the respect of both his peers and the community he served.
Relocation to Orangeville
In 2021, Justice Wakefield made the decision to transfer to Orangeville, a move that brought him closer to the hearts of the people and the town itself. Almost immediately, he forged meaningful connections and became an integral part of the Orangeville community.
Community Advocate in Orangeville
His dedication to public service extended into Orangeville, where Justice Wakefield was poised to contribute to various causes, including support for Women’s and Men’s Shelters. His genuine interest in the welfare of the community resonated with those around him, establishing him as a well-respected and beloved figure in the town.
Personal Legacy and Family
Justice Wakefield’s legacy extends beyond his professional achievements. He leaves behind a loving family, including his partner Debbie, the mother of his children Ann, his son Colin (Mary McMillan), daughter Caitlin (Mirwan Eid), and his sister Christine (William Boomhower). His granddaughters Kalina and Malia, whom he adored, will undoubtedly cherish the memories of their beloved grandfather.
A Lasting Impact
Justice Graham Richard Wakefield’s sudden departure has left a void that will be challenging to fill. His legacy is etched not only in legal annals but also in the hearts of those he touched through his kindness, wisdom, and commitment to justice. His colleagues, friends, and family will continue to honor his memory, ensuring that the principles he held dear remain steadfast in the pursuit of a just society.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to be made to Sick Kids Hospital in honor of Justice Wakefield’s granddaughter Kalina. Contributions can be made through the following link: [Sick Kids Hospital – Kalina’s Memorial Fund](https://fundraise.sickkidsfoundation.com/kalina) or to the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The Honourable Justice Graham Richard Wakefield’s passing marks the end of an era, leaving a profound impact on the legal community and the communities he served. As we reflect on his life, let us remember Justice Wakefield as a beacon of justice, compassion, and community service, whose legacy will endure in the hearts and minds of those who had the privilege of knowing him.