Former district judge dies at 91


S.J. "Sandy" Elden, a longtime Ann Arbor district court judge, died Dec. 1, 2015, at the age of 91.

A Detroit native and 1942 graduate of Detroit Central High School, Elden served in the U.S. Army during World War II with air corps and bomb squadrons; then earned his law degree from Wayne State University on the G.I. Bill.

He was appointed Ann Arbor assistant city attorney in 1956, and a municipal judge in 1967, the first Jewish judge in Washtenaw County. In 1968 he joined the 15th District court.

In 26 years on the bench from 1967 to 1993, Elden presided over thousands of cases including the case of an "obscene" film in the 1960s and Ann Arbor's marijuana laws in the 1970s.

Elden was honored in 1994 with the American Bar Association's Franklin N. Flaschner Judicial Award, that recognizes a judge in a court of limited jurisdiction who has an excellent reputation, a commitment to high ideals, exemplary character, leadership and competence in performing judicial duties.

A Boy Scout in his youth with Troop 23 at B'nai Moshe Synagogue in Detroit, Elden earned his Eagle Scout badge, and later became a Scoutmaster and a member of the Portage Trails Council.

He served on the Board of Dawn Farm, an addiction center in Ypsilanti, and served many other organizations; and was a founding member of Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor.

He is survived by his wife Odie, two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Donations in Elden's name can be sent to Temple Beth Emeth, 2309 Packard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48104, or to Southern Shores Boy Scouts of America (BSA), 3914 Bestech Rd., Ypsilanti, MI, 48197.

Published: Mon, Dec 14, 2015