Mesothelioma Patient Stories:
Judge William Forbes
William Forbes was from Norfolk, Virginia. As a young man he enlisted in the Army and served in World War II. Returning to the vicinity of his home town, he went back to school, obtained his high school diploma and went to college. During his college years, he spent two summer breaks working as an apprentice in the nearby shipyards. As a rigger's helper, he worked mostly in the deep innards of ships that were under repair.
Of course, these ships were lined with massive amounts of insulation made of asbestos. It was during these summers that he decided to attend law school. It was also during these summers that his exposure to asbestos would later lead to malignant mesothelioma.
After graduating from law school and entering law practice for several years, Judge Forbes ventured into politics. He became the first city attorney for the new City of Chesapeake and, in 1975, became the area’s first judge. In 1980, he became a judge in the Circuit Court.
More than 20 years after becoming a judge, in 1997, he noticed a pain in his left shoulder that was suspected to be arthritis. He underwent treatment, but it persisted. In 1998, a thoracic surgeon noted a large lung tumor on an x-ray. Judge Forbes was given the diagnosis of mesothelioma. The judge learned that mesothelioma was a deadly disease that was related to asbestos exposure. He thought back to the days, almost 50 years earlier, when he had worked in the shipyards and was exposed to asbestos every day during his summer breaks. Late in late 1998, Judge Forbes died of mesothelioma.
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[Page updated December 2004]