Remembering Judge Joseph Olcavage

It is with great sadness that I tell you of the recent passing of retired Presiding City Judge Joseph Olcavage.

Joseph Olcavage – or Judge O. as he was affectionately called – was known for his soft smile, attentive gaze and piercing intellect as he presided in the Scottsdale City Court.

Judge O. was a strategic thinker – a visionary whose innovations, creativity and administrative skills resonate in our municipal system and ripple throughout Scottsdale. For more than 40 years, he constantly mentored new judges, promoted peer education and even created an in-house data system— shorthand to streamline court operations.

Judge O. first joined the city as an Assistant City Prosecutor in 1980, then later served as a City Prosecutor, an Assistant City Attorney in the Civil Division, an Associate Judge and, from 2012 until 2022, as Scottsdale’s Presiding Judge.

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said, “In recognizing the humanity of our fellow human beings— we pay ourselves the highest tribute.” Certainly, Judge O. believed in equal justice for all — with sincere possibility for restoration of the individual.

He knew that the courts are intimidating but was centered to our human experience.

Judge O. inspired his staff and everyone he encountered by his authentic leadership. He spent his life energy, fully committed to public service every day to encountered and served in our city court.

Twenty years ago, as a city councilman I met Judge Oclavage and he was reappointed by council. And he shared his wisdom when we sat in the mayor's office a year ago —but the most memorable last time together was with several other judges and wives at a Diamondbacks Skybox just a couple of months ago.

We shared conversations and rotated to sit next to Judge O. — the game did not matter. To me, Judge O. mentioned The Green Delfin pub in Tucson, his law school classmates and so many other things I will treasure. All who knew him will miss him. It’s a comforting thought that we had the privilege to know him.

At the request of Donna and his family, I am sharing the following about services for Judge O.:

A Funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. on December 15th at St. Patrick’s Catholic Community (10815 N. 84th Street, Scottsdale).

Mass will be followed by a processional and graveside service at Paradise Memorial Gardens (9300 E. Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale).

Let’s take a moment of silence to remember our dear friend and colleague, Judge Joseph Olcavage.

Thank you. Our hearts and prayers are with Donna and the Olcavage family at this most difficult time.

- Mayor David D. Ortega

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