Former judge Stanley C. Young, Jr., ”Spike” as he was most commonly known, died peacefully in his sleep Jan. 1, 2010 in Reno, leaving the county with a lifelong legacy of both professional and community service. He was 84.
He leaves behind his wife of 31 years, Louise, and seven children.
Young’s life was a slice of Plumas County history. His grandfather, John C. Young, owned and operated several businesses and a dairy in Indian Valley in the 1860s, after he and two of his brothers migrated from Canada to stake their claim during the Gold Rush. Young’s Market in Taylorsville carries the family name.As a youngster, Young’s father, Stanley Sr., worked at the family dairy. Eventually, Young Sr. obtained his law degree and began practicing in Quincy.
After graduating from Quincy High School in 1944 and San Jose State in 1948 with a degree in history, Young Jr., who always admired and respected his father, also decided to pursue a career in law and went on to earn his degree from Hastings School of Law in 1952.
After passing the state bar exam, Young returned to Quincy in 1953 to establish what became a distinguished career as an attorney, prosecutor and Plumas County Superior Court judge.
He started out as a partner in a law firm with his father until 1964, when Young Sr. began phasing himself out of the practice. About that same time, Young Jr. was offered and accepted a position as deputy district attorney and was subsequently elected the county’s district attorney in 1965.
While serving as Plumas County’s DA, Young prosecuted the case involving George Parell, who was accused of arson in the infamous fire at the historic Quincy Hotel. Young often lamented to friends that it was a trial he felt he should never have lost and one, as it turned out, he would never forget.
In 1969, Young Jr. was appointed Plumas County Superior Court judge by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, succeeding Bertram Janes, who was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeals. Judge Young presided over the court—running unopposed for re-election every six years—until 1989, when he felt it was time to step aside and let someone a little younger take his place. That paved the way for what became the county’s first contested election for judge.
But Young, who was quoted once as saying he loved the “fascinating dilemma law presents,” wasn’t quite ready to completely retire, so he spent the next two decades as a sitting assignment judge, mediator and arbitrator.
He told friends his last—and most daunting—trial a few years ago took him to Mendocino County to preside over a gruesome 1986 murder involving four members of the Hells Angels who were ultimately convicted.
Young’s list of accomplishments was long and impressive. He was very active in the community. Rarely was there a public or private event where he wasn't asked to be the master of ceremonies.
He was a member of the Rotary Club for 62 years, again proudly following in his father’s footsteps. Young Sr. was a founding member and the service club’s first president.
At the encouragement of some community leaders, he ran for the Assembly in 1968, losing his one and only bid for state office to Pauline Davis.
In 1979, as an outgrowth of a highway safety project instituted by Quincy Rotary, Young headed an impressive movement that included several local business and community leaders asking Caltrans and state lawmakers to make immediate and long-overdue improvements to state Highway 70.
Their efforts ultimately resulted in the addition of more guardrails, turnouts and passing lanes in the Feather River Canyon.
In the early 1980s, he and Louise owned and she operated a restaurant in Quincy, Gansner Bar and Grill.
In that same timeframe, Young and three associates purchased the land the Quincy Hotel once occupied that is now Dame Shirley Plaza. Their hope was to build a hotel and convention center on the site, only to find out after years of exhaustive research it wouldn’t be feasible.
Scott Lawson, Plumas County Museum director, who also served on the Townhall Association board with Young, said he will remember Spike for his appreciation of local history and the county’s heritage, but added that Spike also keep looking forward for ways to better the community.
“We lost a true county icon with his passing,” Superior Court Judge Ira Kaufman said, adding that in the courtroom and on the street Young really knew what he was doing. “He truly had a sense of the county and the people in it.”
Judge Janet Hilde said, “Judge Young was a wonderful, supportive role model for me. In addition to being a well-respected judge in our county and around the state, he was truly dedicated to his community and affected many people's lives in a positive way.”
Young’s lifelong best friend, former county supervisor Jim Gossett took the news of his passing hard. “From the time we attended grammar school to the present, we were as close as any two people could be. I learned a lot from Spike and loved his sense of humor. I’ll miss him.”
As of press time, services are tentatively planned for Saturday, Jan. 16, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Quincy. His full obituary and details will appear in next week’s newspaper.
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