Judge Richard G. Kolostian, Sr. was born on December 2, 1931, the youngest of 2 sons born to Kalost Der, a vegetable peddler who survived the Armenian Genocide, and Rose, a homemaker. He grew up in Boyle Heights, graduating from Fremont High School in 1949. His father died while he was in college, forcing him to work to support himself and his family while attending Loyola University Los Angeles (now Loyola Marymount). While at Loyola, he was in Air Force ROTC. After graduating Loyola in the mid-1950’s, he served in the Air Force on active duty. Once honorably discharged, he worked his way full-time in the Personnel Department of General Telephone (now Verizon), while attending Loyola Law School at night part-time. He graduated from Loyola Law School in 1964.
His first job out of law school was with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, where he was a criminal trial attorney, criminal appellate attorney, and later legal adviser to the Los Angeles Police Commission. He left the city in 1968 to enter private practice. In the mid-1970’s, he was elected as a Commissioner in the Los Angeles Municipal Court. On February 2, 1980, he was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown as a Judge in the Los Angeles Superior Court, making him one of the first jurists in California to go from a Municipal Court Commissioner to Superior Court Judge. During his first year on the Superior Court, he served at Juvenile Hall in Sylmar. After that year, he transferred to Van Nuys, where he served the remainder of his career. He started in Van Nuys as a felony criminal judge, then in later years transitioned to handle civil cases. He served as Supervising Judge of the Northwest District (Van Nuys) in 1988.
He was active and supportive of organizations such as the San Fernando Valley Bar Association and the Armenian Bar Association. For many years, Judge Kolostian served as a judge for the Constitutional Rights Foundation Mock Trials program, which allows high school students to try a fictional case, giving them valuable insight into law and the legal profession. One year he served as a judge for the Mock Trials National Championship in Madison, Wisconsin. For over a decade, he was Scoutmaster for Troop 127 of the Great Western Council (now Western L.A. County Council) of the Boy Scouts of America, influencing many young men, and helping his two sons to reach the highest award in Scouting, Eagle Scout.
He retired in 2006, as #1 in seniority of all judges in the entire Los Angeles Superior Court. In retirement, he was private judge, and also volunteered to sit by assignment in the probate court of the Northwest District Superior Court in Van Nuys. He and his wife also got to travel to various places around the world, including: China, Egypt, Russia, Central Europe, and the Panama Canal. He also got to see and enjoy the growth and development of his 4 grandchildren, who affectionately nicknamed him “Grandpa Judge.”
After suffering a stroke in early May 2018, he was brought home to Calabasas to live out the remainder of his life in hospice care. He passed away peacefully on June 9. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Joan; his sons Richard Jr. (Michele) and Jon; and his wonderful grandchildren Peter, Ava, Zachary, and Conner.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in the name of Judge Kolostian to the following organizations: San Fernando Valley Bar Association—Valley Community Legal Foundation (thevclf.org), Armenian Bar Association (armenianbar.org), and the Constitution Rights Foundation Mock Trial Program (crf-usa.org—please specify “Mock Trial Program”).