John C. Holstein
Parkview High School Class of 1963
John C. Holstein has the distinction of being the only judge in Missouri history to have served at every level of the Missouri state judiciary.
During his 52-year legal career, John Holstein has served as judge at all levels in the Missouri State Court System, including judge and chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit Judge, Probate Judge and Municipal Judge.
Having participated in over 1,000 published rulings, his influence on Missouri law is unparalleled. Under his leadership as Chief Justice, Missouri became one of the first states to develop a statewide judicial information system for electronically filing and retrieving case information by judges, attorneys and the public.
He has been recognized by Ingram’s as one of the Top 50 Missourians; by Missouri Lawyers Weekly for securing the largest reported settlement in 2015, and by the Missouri Bar Foundation. Holstein is a recipient of the Defender of the Constitution Award and the Benjamin Cardozo Award by the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Holstein recalls two Parkview High School teachers who inspired him to develop important character traits that helped him succeed personally and professionally. He says: “David Suenram, a track and football coach, taught me to never give up no matter how tough the task, and English teacher Olive Decatur set an example, by speech and deed, of how to treat everyone with dignity and kindness.”
After graduating from Parkview, Holstein earned degrees from Missouri State University, University of Missouri Law School and University of Virginia. He also served 27 years in the U.S. Army, Army Reserve and National Guard, retiring as a Lt. Colonel in 1997.
Beyond his professional achievements, Holstein takes great pride in his family, including 12 grandchildren. “I married Mary [Brummell] in 1967,” he says. “She was a cheerleader for the [MSU] Bears. We have three daughters, Robin, Katy and Erin, who are married with four kids each. We are proud of the accomplishments of our girls, their husbands and the grandkids.”
Holstein also has a history of community service, working with organizations across 417-land like Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association, Rotary, United Way of the Ozarks and Legal Services of Southwest Missouri.
In 2002, he returned to private practice, specializing in mediation and arbitration.
Looking back on his career, Holstein offers some helpful advice for high school students. “Do not delay or avoid the little, difficult jobs,” he says. “If the little tasks are done well, the big jobs will take care of themselves. And always give credit to others for their assistance.”