Obituary: Judge Robert N. Zarick, 89, was founding member of Lincoln Law School

Robert N. Zarick, a retired Sacramento Superior Court judge who was a founding faculty member of Lincoln Law School, died Oct. 28. He was 89.

Trained at Harvard Law School, Judge Zarick returned to his native Sacramento to begin practicing law in 1951. He was appointed to the Sacramento Municipal Court by Gov. Pat Brown in 1964 and elevated to the Superior Court bench in 1980 by Gov. Jerry Brown.

From his youth, Mr. Zarick knew what career he would pursue.

“He always wanted to be a lawyer. It was something he never thought two things about,” said Joan Zarick, his wife of 60 years.

Mr. Zarick graduated from McClatchy High School in February 1941 and earned an associate degree at Sacramento Junior College. When he enlisted in the Army in 1943 and was asked what he wanted to do in the service, he said he would like to go back to school, recalled his wife. The Army sent him to Officer Candidate School, and he became a second lieutenant at age 19.

He served stateside during World War II, crossing the country numerous times by train to various embarkation sites, where it was his job to make sure troops were properly outfitted for overseas duty, Joan Zarick said.

After leaving the military, he returned to school, graduating from UC Berkeley, then Harvard Law School.

He arrived at Harvard with a suitcase and no place to live. Housing was hard to come by in those post-war years, and Joan Zarick recalls her husband telling how he walked the streets until he spotted a moving van at a house. He learned that a boarder was moving out and managed to secure the departing tenant’s attic room.

Joan Zarick described her husband as a nurturer who was always looking out for the welfare of others. That was part of what drew him to teaching.

Andy Smolich, a longtime Sacramento lawyer and a founder of Lincoln Law School, said Judge Zarick was one of the original teachers when the law school was founded in 1969. He taught contract law, one of the fundamental courses of legal education, for about 10 years.

“But he always stayed close to Lincoln Law School all of the time,” Smolich said. “He did whatever he could to help out. He always was happiest teaching law.”

Joan Zarick said her husband had considerable respect for his students.

“He always thought they were the greatest because they worked during the day and spent their nights studying,” she said.

Judge Zarick established and funded a scholarship for Lincoln Law School students and was gratified by the letters he received over the years from recipients telling how much the support meant to them.

Smolich said Judge Zarick was widely respected in the legal community, noting that he ranked highest among Sacramento Municipal Court judges in surveys conducted by the Sacramento Bar Association in 1978 and 1979.

“He was always prepared for whatever case was before him,” Smolich said. “He was one of the most knowledgeable judges and one of the most courteous guys you’d ever find.”

Judge Zarick retired in 1984. He told a Bee reporter at the time that he had undergone open-heart surgery three years earlier and he wanted to travel and spend more time with his wife.

His favorite activity during retirement was fishing for salmon in Alaska.

“He brought more than 100 pounds of fish home one time,” Joan Zarick said, recalling that a nearby market agreed to store the catch.

Robert Zarick was born Jan. 1, 1924, to Nade and Domina Zarick. He had a younger brother, Edward Zarick, now deceased. Along with his parents, Judge Zarick was active in the American Slavic Social Club. He also served as president of the East Sacramento Kiwanis and was active in the Knights of Columbus and Sons in Retirement.

In addition to his wife, he leaves a daughter, Laurie Zarick of Mission Viejo; a son, David Zarick of Los Angeles; and two grandchildren.

A burial Mass will be at 1 p.m. today at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1333 58th St., Sacramento.

Remembrances may be made to the Robert N. Zarick Scholarship Fund at Lincoln Law School.