Rowe takes seat on the bench

When you don’t do something very often, why not do it big?

That was the sentiment as officials from across the state gathered at Town Hall as Trumbull swore in a new judge of probate for the first time in more than three decades.

New judge T.R. Rowe replaced John Chiota, who held the position since 1978 but has now reached the state-mandated retirement age of 72.

“This position requires people of unique character and jurisprudence,” said council Chairman Carl Massaro. “T.R. is the ultimate family man for the family court.”

Massaro also praised Chiota, noting that he won nine elections to serve as probate judge for the district that includes Trumbull, Easton and Monroe.

“That is some measure of public trust,” Massaro said.

Numerous speakers also praised Rowe for his commitment to the community and his family, and also for his religious faith.

“Newtown showed us that it’s all about faith, all about family and all about kids, and those are also the things that T.R. is all about,” said Monroe First Selectman Steve Vavrek.

State Rep. Larry Cafero, R-Norwalk, the GOP’s House leader, recounted the first time he met Rowe 15 years ago. The two have served together in the state House of Representatives since 1998.

“Fifteen years ago a young wise man come into my life and incessantly reminded me that there is no Trumbull without T.R.,” Cafero said. Cafero said he could sum up his impression of Rowe in three words, “faith, family, service.”

Trumbull First Selectman Timothy Herbst said Rowe was the perfect man to continue Chiota’s legacy.

“Judge Chiota really raised the bar and set the example for other probate judges to come,” Herbst said. “The values that define T.R. make him uniquely qualified.”

For his part, Rowe deflected the praise others heaped upon him, preferring instead to credit his family and friends for supporting him in his political and community service career.

“I am enjoying an earlier Heaven,” he said.