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Sun Gazette: Memorial Resolution Honors First Female Judge in County History Print

BY SCOTT McCAFFREY

Created:  February 3, 2014

 

In 1982, Eleanor Spence Dobson became the first female judge in Arlington, having been elected by the General Assembly to the 17th General District Court and serving until 1997, including tenure as chief judge.

That service – "with great fairness and wisdom" – is being honored by the General Assembly with a memorial resolution.

"A woman of great integrity, Judge Dobson served the Arlington County community and the commonwealth with great distinction," notes the resolution, sponsored by Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th). It cleared the House of Delegates without opposition and moved over to the state Senate.

Dobson, who died last September, wasn't a native Arlingtonian, but came close: Born in New York, she moved with her family to the county and graduated in 1944 from Washington-Lee High School. She later earned an undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College and, in 1974, a law degree from the College of William and Mary.

After earning her law degree, Dobson returned to Arlington and began practicing law with state Sen. Edward Holland.

In 1949, Eleanor Spence married her high school sweetheart, George Smythe Jr. They had two sons.

An Air Force pilot, Smythe in 1959 died in the crash of an F-100D fighter jet during training at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. His widow later married William Dobson, an Air Force communications officer; they were married for 47 years until his death in 2011, and had a son and a daughter.


 



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