E. Ray Stevens (1869-1930)
Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice (1926-1930)
"He was a slave to his work, but a willing slave, and like most happy men he really loved his work." - Justice Burr W. Jones, Steven's memorial service (1930)
Edmund Ray Stevens was born June 20, 1869, in Lake County, Illinois, and his family later settled in Janesville, Wisconsin. He received his law degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1895 and entered the law office of Burr W. Jones (who later became a Supreme Court justice). A year later, they established the firm Jones & Stevens, which operated until 1903.
In 1901, he was elected to the state Assembly, where he helped shape the state's primary election system. In 1903, Governor Robert M. La Follette appointed Stevens, 34, judge for the 9th Judicial Circuit. As a judge, he became an authority on reviewing the decisions of various state commissions which regulated tax collection, transportation systems and employer/employee relations.
While on the bench, Stevens lectured at the University of Wisconsin Law School for five years and was active at the State Historical Society. Stevens was a circuit court judge until his election to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1926, where he served until his death in 1930.
Known for his untiring devotion to his job, Stevens participated in more than 1,700 cases and wrote 237 opinions in his four years on the Supreme Court.
"He crowded into his sixty-one years of life more of usefulness than most men even of high ability, in fourscore years can contribute to their fellowmen, " said Attorney Burr W. Jones at Stevens' memorial service.
Stevens was not interested in hunting, fishing, golf nor cards, which many of his friends enjoyed, but he loved nature. Although his career did not allow for much leisure time, he enjoyed hiking, gardening and taking cruises on Lake Michigan.
Stevens was married to Kate Sabin. They had two sons, Myron and Henry. Myron practiced law in Madison for many years and was a partner in the firm of Ross & Stevens.