By Dorothy Bliskey
Martin De Vries has many roles. In his professional life, he’s the newly elected Circuit Court Judge for Dodge County and was first appointed to the position by Governor Walker last year when Judge John Storck retired. (A contested election this spring led to his victory by the voters.)
In his personal life, De Vries, who lives on 22 acres near Randolph, is a devoted husband to Karen and a loving father to seven children — Martin Jr, 24; twins Trevor and Tyler, 22; Thomas, 20; Emma,16; Joe,14; and Kate, 10.
While it’s a bustling household, some have left the nest. Oldest son Martin Jr, works in California. Trevor, Tyler, and Thomas attend college out-of-state; Emma and Joe are in high school. Kate, 10, has just finished fourth grade.
Martin’s family is his pride and joy. His profession as a lawyer for 26 years and a Judge for nearly a year influence how he approaches and raises his children. “My role as a father has a lot to do with my role as a judge,” De Vries said. “You learn how to treat people and to analyze what’s being told to you. You can also see what’s important in life. Everyone in your court is someone’s child and is important to someone. You have to treat them fairly and look out for their best interests.”
With raising his children, De Vries says his style of parenting is to spend quality time with them daily, listen to and advise them, be consistent, and make sure they know how much he loves them. “I also try to make it a priority to discuss their faith in God and help them mature spiritually,” De Vries said.
“You picked a fine example of a Dad for this Father’s Day story,” said Karen DeVries. “Martin is very patient, caring and kind. He’s always willing to spend time with the kids on their level. That means sometimes playing basketball or catch, reading books to them, helping with homework, and even making cookies with or for them. He’s hands-on and has helped the kids in all stages from babies to teens.”
As for this dad’s personality, Karen describes him as laid back with a relaxed approach to life. “He tends to be serious, calm and collected but still has fun with the kids with his dry, witty sense of humor. He plays games with them, teases them, and really enjoys their company. Martin tends to go with the flow and doesn’t get bogged down with details.”
As Martin reflects on the joys of fatherhood, he says it’s all the little day-to-day things that happen — like seeing his children smile at him and observing them doing the right thing. “Helping a child through some difficult times and seeing them successfully get through it brings happiness to me as a father.”
He has advice for other fathers out there. “Promote Christian education for your children. Be consistent with each of them. Let them know how much you care. I think a lot of problems these days could be alleviated by sharing your life with your kids and spending time with them every day.”
He briefly describes each of his children, starting with the oldest. “Marty is quiet, much like I’ve always been. He loves the outdoors, is very self-confident, and graduated from Dordt College in Iowa with a degree in business and finance.”
“Trevor is laid back, but not as quiet. He attended Dordt College for a business degree. Like me, he’s tall – I’m 6’6” but, at 6’9” he’s three inches taller.” Martin says his four oldest boys range from 6’3” to 6’ 9” in height. Basketball was their main sport in high school – as it was for their dad.
Martin describes Trevor’s twin brother Tyler as more on the quiet side. “He loves history and wants to be a history teacher,” Martin said, noting he also is at Dordt College.
Thomas is more outgoing than the others, says Martin who notes he attends Grand Valley State – a four-year college in Michigan. “He’s working toward a criminal justice degree and a law enforcement career.”
Emma loves music – especially the piano. “Like some of her brothers, she’s quiet but confident. She’s serious about academics,” Martin said, noting she also loves track. Emma’s plan after high school is to get a degree in music.
“Our son Joe is very talkative and outgoing. He’s our family comedian,” Martin smiled. “He does well academically and likes basketball.”
Last but not least, there’s Kate. Martin describes his youngest as a very caring and sweet child. “Everyone loves being around her. And since she’s quite a bit younger than the others, she probably gets special treatment.”
Martin and Karen’s oldest four children were born in California where Martin practiced law the first 10 years after earning his law degree from Valparaiso University. Like his sons, he earned his undergraduate degree from Dordt College. During his early working years in California, he did litigation work for a mid-size firm consisting of about 25 lawyers. In 1999 he and Karen moved back to the Randolph area. He practiced law at the Sager and Colwin Law Firm in Fond du Lac until October, 2016 when he took on the role as Dodge County Circuit Court Judge.
De Vries is a member of the Dodge County Bar Association and has been involved in numerous legal organizations such as Inns of Court and the Federal Bar Association. He has served on the boards of Faith Christian School in Randolph and Central Wisconsin Christian School in Waupun – the school he attended and where his children are enrolled. He is an active member of the Randolph Protestant Reformed Church.
“Martin is a wonderful example of a Godly father,” Karen said. “He shows patience daily and rarely gets upset or angry — forgiveness comes quickly when the kids show heartfelt sorrow. Just by living his life as he does, he is teaching our boys what it means to be a man, a husband, and a father. He is living his life as a wonderful example, giving them a role model to follow.”