Cathy Skeirik Roberts Submitted photo

Cathy Skeirik Roberts, a former assistant attorney general for Maine and a longtime partner at the Portland law firm Thompson & Bowie, died Jan. 22 after a battle with ovarian cancer. She was 64.

Roberts was remembered by colleagues Thursday as a hard-working and respected attorney who had an infectious smile and zest for life.

A native of Georgetown, Massachusetts, Roberts was a 1985 graduate of the New England School of Law in Boston. She was accepted in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps. She served at Naval Station Treasure Island in California as as trial counsel, or prosecutor. She later served as staff judge advocate, or legal counsel, for the commanding officer of the base.

Roberts joined Thompson & Bowie in 1989 as an associate and later became a partner of the firm. Her practice areas included insurance defense, workers’ compensation, and admiralty and maritime law. She left the firm in 2016 after 27 years of service.

Jim Bowie, managing partner of Thompson Bowie & Hatch LLC, said Thursday that Roberts was a tenacious lawyer who fought tirelessly for her clients. She was also known for her smile, humor and kindness, he said.

“When she smiled, you couldn’t help but smile with her,” said Bowie, of Yarmouth. “She was just a wonderful person to work with. Law is a tough business. It’s hard sometimes to maintain a balance, but she could defuse things with her smile, then go back and work hard representing her clients as well. She was a force of nature.”

Roberts was highly respected by her peers and had a passion for mentoring new attorneys.
Twain Braden, also a partner at the firm, worked with Roberts for four years. He reflected Thursday on her distinguished career as a female attorney practicing admiralty law.

“She was exceedingly tough,” Braden said. “As a female lawyer in the maritime world, which is often regarded as a good old boys club, she had to work really hard to protect the respect that she earned. I really respected that.”

In 2016, Roberts joined the Maine Attorney General’s Office as an assistant attorney general in its litigation division. She worked for the state until 2019, then became a contract employee for the AG’s office until April.

“I was very lucky to bring her into the AG’s Office after many years of experience in the private sector as an active and well-respected litigator,” Gov. Janet Mills, Maine’s former attorney general, said in an email. “She handled some tough cases in our office and showed up for work even on the most difficult weeks and days. The office loved her. Other, less experienced, trial attorneys would go to her for crisp, forthright and well-seasoned advice, her pleasant demeanor belying a deep connection to the law, to litigation pitfalls and practice pointers. She was a great sport in all senses of the word.”

Roberts was the wife of Brian Roberts for 31 years. They met on the first day of training in the JAG corps in Newport, Rhode Island. They were married in 1989 and lived in Falmouth Foreside beginning 1992.

Roberts had a passion for the outdoors. She was an avid skier and hiker, and loved boating, wind surfing and paddle boarding.

Her husband reminisced on Thursday about their life together, noting she was a hard worker and someone he could confide in and share ideas with.

“She my best friend,” he said. “She worked really hard at nurturing friendships. She had lifelong friends, which is pretty rare. She would love to walk down the street and chat with people or go to the dock and talk to people down there. … She was a wonderful human being. I think everyone who knew her was better for it, including me. She was a great influence on me in becoming a better person.”

Roberts also was remembered as a thoughtful person who found joy in the little things of life, such as being on the water or having a beer with a friend.

“She had this explosive laugh,” Braden said. “She was a very quiet and soft-spoken person, but when she would laugh, it would make it all the more surprising because it was so joyful.”

In 2016, Roberts was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. A year prior, she beat breast cancer.

Her sister, Lynne Skeirik of Arlington, Virginia, said she was incredibly positive and upbeat throughout her fight with cancer.

“She had this amazing spirit that shined the whole time,” Skeirik said. “She was an inspiration to everybody. If didn’t matter how she felt when you talked to her, she wanted to know how you were doing. She was always optimistic. She always saw the silver lining. She really fought. She had so much strength. It was inspirational.”

“I’ll miss her presence, … her smile ” her husband said, breaking down in tears. “It’s hard. I miss her so much right now. Also, her intellect. She was very intelligent. She loved literature. We spent almost every evening watching ‘Jeopardy!’ together, which I think a lot of couples do.”

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