Legal 04
Official Obituary of

Michael J. Skwierawski

October 19, 1942 ~ March 8, 2024 (age 81) 81 Years Old

Michael Skwierawski Obituary

Milwaukee lost one of its most distinguished and distinctive native sons when Judge Michael Skwierawski died in his sleep on March 8. As a judge, community leader, and committed citizen, he left an imprint on the city that will last long after his passing. Skwierawski was born on Oct. 19, 1942, the second of three children in a proudly Polish West Allis family. He was the pure product of a Catholic education, graduating from St. Aloysius Grade School, Marquette University High School, Marquette University, and then Georgetown University Law School, where he earned his law degree in 1967. In 1964, he married Gloria (nee Miota), his lifetime partner in every endeavor. After a decade split between private practice and service as an assistant district attorney, Skwierawski became a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge in 1978. He served in that capacity for 25 years, the last five as chief judge. He presided over 515 jury trials during his time on the bench, including the highly publicized murder case of Lawrencia Bembenek. After his retirement in 2003, Skwierawski became a sought-after mediator in commercial disputes, overseeing a total of 435 cases.
His judicial record was impressive, but Mike accomplished just as much off the bench. Friends and family members recall him as a person who spent his life in fifth gear. Although he never seemed to hurry, Skwierawski was always busy doing something, with a completely characteristic intensity, and with his partner Gloria always by his side. A gifted athlete, he was a regular in the lunch-hour basketball games in the Safety Building gym, and he coached his own children and many others in a variety of sports. The first Evans Scholar from Westmoore CC, he played his whole life at courses all around the world. An accomplished musician, he played lead guitar in a band of fellow judges and attorneys called Presumed Guilty. The handiest of handymen, he shared his fix-it skills widely and applied them regularly to his family’s off-the-grid log cabin in the Baraboo Hills north of Madison.
Adjectives used to describe the judge include “fiery,” “combative,” and “stubborn,” but those qualities were tempered, according to those who knew him, by a generosity of spirit and a bone-deep concern for the community’s welfare. Skwierawski played an instrumental, even decisive, role in the creation of the Polish Center of Wisconsin, the Conservancy for Healing and Heritage, and his crowning achievement, the Milwaukee Justice Center, a collaborative project whose free legal clinics provide assistance to nearly 10,000 Milwaukeeans each year, many of them low-income. He spent what was to be his last day providing legal advice at the Center. Throughout his distinguished career, Skwierawski’s anchor was his family. His memory will be cherished by the love of his life Gloria, his wife of nearly 60 years, and children Audrey (Frank Keppler), Jenny (Jeff Smith), Meg (Demond Richardson), and Andy (Molly Pahl), who have grown into productive careers of their own in business, law, and education. Called “Bumpa” by his eleven grandchildren, he loved nothing more than to spend time with Jordan, Noah, Elly, Sophie, Calvin, Fiona, Anya, Benny, Owen, Teddy and Ian - just as much as they loved spending it with him. He is further survived by his brother Don (Linda) Skwierawski and many loving relatives. He is predeceased by his mother Frances Timler, father George Skwierawski, and sister Arlene Skwierawski



Milwaukee Justice Center, the Conservancy for Healing and Heritage or the Polish Center of Wisconsin.

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April 18, 2024

4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Polish Center of Wisconsin
6941 S. 68th St.
Franklin, WI 53132

Celebration of Life
April 18, 2024

6:30 PM
Polish Center of Wisconsin
6941 S. 68th St.
Franklin, WI 53132


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