Chief Justice Heffernan's portrait presented to Wisconsin Supreme Court
Madison, Wisconsin - September 17, 2010
Heffernan’s oil portrait, painted by well-known portrait artist Benjamin Donald McCready, will be hung alongside the portraits of other deceased chief justices just outside the hearing room.
The portrait was presented to the Court by State Bar of Wisconsin President James C. Boll and was unveiled by Heffernan’s children, Michael and Tom Heffernan and Katie Thomas. About 40 people attended the ceremony, including current and former justices, family members, friends and former clerks of Chief Justice Heffernan.
Heffernan served on the Supreme Court from 1964 to 1995 and as chief justice from 1983 to 1995. His 31-year tenure on the Court makes him the fourth longest-serving justice in Wisconsin history. Heffernan died April 13, 2007 at the age of 86.
During the ceremony, Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson said Heffernan had a profound impact, not only on the law, but also on the operation of the statewide court system.
“This portrait is a tribute not only to Nathan Heffernan, who served the people of Wisconsin long and well, but also to the bench and the bar and the court administrators, who joined together to honor Nat in this way,” Abrahamson said.
Other speakers at the ceremony included attorneys Michael S. Heffernan, Susan R. Steingass, Michael B. Van Sicklen and Boll, each of whom recounted stories of Chief Justice Heffernan as a father, judge, mentor and friend.
Heffernan was appointed to the Court at age 43 by Gov. John W. Reynolds in 1964. Before that, he served two years as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin – a position to which he was appointed to by President John F. Kennedy.
From 1959 to 1962, Heffernan served as deputy attorney general for Wisconsin. From 1948 to 1959, Heffernan was in private law practice in Sheboygan at the firm of Buchen & Heffernan. He served as assistant district attorney in Sheboygan County from 1951 to 1953 and city attorney of Sheboygan from 1953 to 1959.