By Dana Sullivan Kilroy
Judge Tracy Edward “Ted” Page, the longtime NJC instructor who was shot and killed at his home in northwest Indiana in August, will be remembered as a fun-loving attorney with an encyclopedic knowledge of the law, an Eagle Scout, and a man who loved teaching.
“Whatever he did, he put his whole heart and soul into it,” said Lake County Superior Court Judge Sheila M. Moss, a longtime friend and protégé. “He was an extraordinary person.”
Judge Page, 64, was killed at his home in Hobart, Indiana, on August 15, 2018. The suspect arrested at the scene was a longtime friend and client, William Landske.
Hobart Police Lieutenant James Gonzales told reporters that Landske, 83, had come to Page’s home with his two adult daughters to retrieve tax documents. Landske noticed bags of documents in the foyer that he believed belonged to him and his late wife, Susan, who was a state senator.
“As soon as he saw all those bags in the foyer, he said he was really overwhelmed and it infuriated him because he felt that Judge Page had been procrastinating and not fulfilling his duty as a tax preparer for the family,” Lt. Gonzales said.
According to police, Landske pulled Page aside to have a conversation and then fired several shots at the judge.
“He took the revolver out of his pocket and pointed it toward the stomach and pulled the trigger,” Gonzales said. “He said after that he continued shooting.”
At a formal appearance in Lake Superior Court on August 31, Landske pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder. A trial is expected to begin February 2019.
Shortly before his death, Judge Page had announced his retirement from the Lake County (Indiana) Public Defender’s Office. He intended to devote more time to working as a senior judge and to teaching at the NJC.
He taught his first NJC course in 1996. Since then he had taught dozens of courses and had completed just as many as a participant. Judge Page had recently been named the NJC’s new judicial fellow to teach courses for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Moss, who serves in Crown Point, Indiana, said Judge Page had been her friend and mentor since 1982, when she graduated from law school. She met him when she was hired as a prosecutor.
“He was very generous with helping me acclimate and understand what goes on in the court rooms, including what to expect from different judges … like the one who didn’t like women to wear pants in his courtroom….,” she said.
A decade later when she was appointed to the bench, he gave her a script to use in court, she said.
“It included things like the words to use to open the case, how to introduce the parties, how to read charges, what to put in instructions, and what to do in case of a hung jury,” she said. “I used it every day for six months.”
Moss said that for more than a decade Judge Page had encouraged her to attend an NJC course, but family and work obligations always prevented her. It was grim irony that she was seated in a Leadership for Judges course at the NJC in Reno when she heard that he had been killed.
“It was surreal,” she said. “He had told me just a few days before that he was retiring from the public defender’s office and finally getting to do what he really loved, teach.”
Judge Page had been preparing to take over teaching commercial driver’s license courses from longtime NJC instructor Judge Robert E. McBeth of Washington state.
“He was intellectually bright, and he understood how to teach,” said McBeth. “Judge Page was passionate about teaching judges.”
Joseph Sawyer, the NJC’s director of online learning and faculty development, said, “His intellect was amazing, but his personality was infectious.” Sawyer had worked with him for many years.
“Tracy loved to joke, and when he was done working, he wanted to go out and socialize. He enjoyed making friends.”
Tracy Page was born on January 14, 1954, in Stuttgart, Germany, where his father was stationed with the U.S. Army. He grew up in Highland Park, Illinois, near Chicago, and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his juris doctor from Indiana University Bloomington.
He began his legal career as a prosecutor in Lake County and became a magistrate of the Lake Superior Court in 1984. He served in that role until 2000. Judge Page worked in several areas of law, including as an attorney at the law firm Cohen and Thiros in Merrillville, Indiana.
His many accomplishments included being a graduate of the Indiana Judicial College and holder of a Certificate in Judicial Development (General Jurisdiction Trial Skills) from the NJC. He served as president of the Association of Indiana Magistrates and treasurer of the Lake County Bar Association.
An Eagle Scout, he later served as vice president of the Calumet Council of the Boy Scouts of America. More recently he became involved in the Freemasons and was raised to the degree of a Master Mason in 2015.
He is survived by his husband of 37 years, Kevin Swanson, two brothers, one sister and numerous nieces and nephews. His family requested memorial donations be given to The Scottish Rite Learning Centers for Children with Dyslexia or Shriners Hospitals for Children.