It's Their Honor,
Judge Hilda Gage looks back on 27-year career.
"Everything would get off kilter
for no reason',' she said. "He was in
Children's Hospital 33 times before
we lost him, and we lost him at
home. He went to bed, and he just
'Jackie has a very mild case of it,
Gage said. "Her blood pressure can
take swings way up in the high
range all the way down to 20 or
Gage began a foundation to
raise money to find a cure for the
disease, and enlisted a lot of
friends for help,"but the group ran
out of gas',' she said.
"It's hard to get people interested
in an orphan disease,' she said.
"We pooled all the money to the
New York [FD] Foundation and
give it to one group at Harvard,
and that's where they came up
with a genetic marker. They haven't
been able to cure it, but they've
been able to treat it."
She also serves on the executive
boards of Children's Hospital of
Michigan and the National
Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Her daughter, Julie Palmer, an
adjunct professor at the University
of Chicago Law School, said her
mother has a positive philosophy
Hilda Gage's first challenge in life about life.
"Whatever life hands you, it's
began as an 11-year-old girl in
your job to make your own good
Detroit when her father, Jacob
time said Palmer of Deerfield, Ill.
Rosenberg, died of a brain hem-
Judy Rosenberg, Gage's sister-in-
orrhage in 1950.
law and best friend since they were
Her mother, Mildred, raised
in elementary school, said Gage
her and her older siblinigs,
finds her troubles and family
Harvey and Susan, alone.
In 1958, while still a student at tragedies "an inconvenience, but
the University of Michigan, Hilda certainly not an impediment to
married Noel Gage, and they had whatever she wants to do. She just
keeps chugging along.
three children, Julie, Jackie and
. "There's just been so many
things to deal with, but she just
While raising her children, she
keeps going',' said Rosenberg, of
taught school and took night
Birmingham. "And as a friend,
classes at Wayne State University
she's the best:'
Law School in Detroit, graduat-
Gage was divorced in 1987, but
ing in 1971.
she still hears from Noel almost
In 1974, the same year she was
every day, and the family had
diagnosed with MS, Gage lost
Thanksgiving together in his Las
Robbie, 6, to familial dysautono-
mia (FD), a rare Jewish genetic
disease that "wreaks havoc with
It's Their Honor on page 32
your autonomic nervous system:'
— the give and take."
The decision to leave the appel-
late court became apparent after
oral arguments last November:
"It was a very complex case, and
that day I sat there for six or seven
hours:' said Gage, 66, who's had
multiple sclerosis for more than 30
years. "I'm presiding and sitting
with two other judges, and I'm
ready to scream. It wasn't pain, it's
really hard to describe — I just
felt so confined, I couldn't move,
and I felt myself getting weak."
The life of an appellate judge is
spent mostly writing opinions, "so
it sounds like a job I could do at
home, but it takes a lot out of me"
she said. "I can't give it 100 per-
cent. It's a great job, but it requires
Although she's in a wheelchair,
Gage refuses to give up and has
gone through physical therapy.
"I'm at the point where I can do
40 or 50 steps with a walker, but I
don't know if you can reverse MS','
she said matter-of-factly.
But that's how she's always led
her life; just making the best of
what life has dealt.
hey're throwing a retire-
ment party for Hilda
The former Michigan Appeals
Court judge says she's delighted,
"but it's just hard on the honoree!"
The party will be much like the
one that welcomed her to the
appellate bench in 1998, a big cer-
emony and the required speech,
she said. "I couldn't wait for that to
get over with:'
"I'm not averse to giving
speeches, but it's really hard to sit
there and hear them eulogize you','
she said about the party planned
for Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Troy
Although she retired on Jan. 15,
the constant phone calls and the
whirring fax machine in her
Bloomfield Hills home prove that
she's still at work.
She's voting on appeal reconsid-
erations until Gov. Jennifer
Granholm appoints a replacement.
And she's thinking of becoming a
visiting judge at trial court,"where
my heart has always been',' she
said. "I love being with the lawyers
Janaury 26 2006