Message from Chief United States District Judge Stanley A. Bastian – Senior Judge Fred Van Sickle

Thursday, September 2, 2021

It is with heavy heart that I report this morning’s passing of Senior United States District Judge Fred Van Sickle of the Eastern District of Washington.  Judge Van Sickle faithfully served the Eastern District of Washington for over thirty years. Nominated by President George H. W. Bush in March 1991, Judge Van Sickle received unanimous confirmation and his commission to a newly authorized judicial seat in May 1991. Praised at the time as one of Washington’s outstanding superior court trial judges, Judge Van Sickle brought a true understanding of rural Washington to the many difficult and complex civil and criminal matters, including several high-profile cases, over which he presided as an Article III Judge. Highly respected by his colleagues for his calm and deliberate presence in the courtroom, Judge Van Sickle served with distinction as Chief Judge of the District from 2000-2005, taking senior status in May 2008.
Born in Superior, Wisconsin in 1943, Frederick Van Sickle received his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1965, and his J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law in 1968. After serving his country as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in the JAG Corp for two years, he set up practice in Wenatchee, where he launched his storied public service legal career in the state he came to call home. Over the course of the next twenty years, Judge Van Sickle served as Prosecutor for Douglas County from 1971-1975; Superior Court Judge for Grant and Douglas Counties from 1975-1979; and Superior Court Judge for Chelan and Douglas Counties from 1979 until he took the federal bench.
Upon taking senior status, Judge Van Sickle returned home to Wenatchee, where he established a small office and traveled to Yakima and Spokane for cases. This move allowed him to maintain a substantial judicial caseload for the District, while enjoying skiing, biking, and fishing with his family and grandchildren in the rural Washington he served so diligently.