Former Stark County Common Pleas Judge Harold E. DeHoff passed away Sunday.
Retired Stark County Common Pleas Judge Harold E. DeHoff died Sunday following a brief illness. He was 88.
DeHoff served on the bench beginning in 1970 when he first was elected judge in Canton Municipal Court. Prior to becoming a judge, he served five consecutive terms as Canton city solicitor.
DeHoff was a decorated World War II soldier, serving in the U.S. Army 78th Infantry. He fought in the European theater, including the Battle of the Bulge. He earned two Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars and several more medals.
His daughter, Betty Gaye Skakun, said her father did not talk about his war experience, but his public service and volunteer work on behalf of the Disabled Veterans of America reflected his patriotism and love for his country.
“He was humble. He didn’t need the recognition,” said Skakun. “He did what he did because he loved his community.”
Skakun said her father was an avid outdoorsman, enjoying fishing and hunting as well as woodworking.
She remembers well her father’s first election to the bench. She was teaching her first class at Worley Elementary School in Canton.
She held a mock election and her students elected him as well, she recalled with a laugh.
DeHoff is pictured with Skakun’s second- and third-graders in a Repository photo in November 1970 following the class’ election.
“Dad had the utmost respect for the law because he realized it’s the law that gives us all opportunity,” Skakun said. “He was very fair. It was very important to him.”
She said he was proud to have four generations of attorneys in his family, including his oldest grandson, John Skakun.
DeHoff was born and raised in Canton and was a McKinley High School graduate. He married his high school sweetheart, Betty Hossler, in 1946. They were married 66 years before she died in 2012.
He was elected judge at Stark County’s Common Pleas Court in 1972 lived in the city’s southwest quadrant throughout his time on the bench.
Stark County Commissioner Janet Weir Creighton, a fellow Republican, grew up on the same street.
“He was my friend and my mentor,” said Creighton, who first met the judge in 1978 when she volunteered on a campaign for a mutual friend.
“He really took me under his wing,” she said. “He was such a historian. I tried to glean as much as I could from him about the history of Stark County and Canton politics. He taught me that everything comes back around.”
Creighton said DeHoff was always candid and he could always predict the winner of an election by looking at the early votes coming in from the townships and absentee ballots long before technology made the calculation.
Page 2 of 2 - She said he continued to active in local politics after he retired from the bench in 1985.
Retired Stark County Judge John R. Milligan said he and DeHoff began their careers as prosecutors together in the 1950s. DeHoff was his lifelong friend.
“He and I literally began our careers as police prosecutors in Canton ... at a time when Canton was less than a habitable place,” he said. “Harold went on to become a good and faithful judge.”
Milligan said he and DeHoff stayed friends and worked together on judicial issues later in their careers.
“I enjoyed his friendship throughout my life,” he said.
Calling hours are 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Spiker-Foster-Shriver Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.