Justice Alexander has deep Washington roots. He was born in Aberdeen, and, at an early age, moved with his family to Olympia. He attended Garfield grade school and then graduated from Olympia High School, which, at the time, was located within sight of the Temple of Justice. After receiving an undergraduate degree in history from the University of Washington, he served as a lieutenant in the United States Army Infantry, and then returned to his alma mater to earn his J.D. in 1964. He was president of the Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity during his final year of law school.
Alexander practiced law privately in Olympia for nine years with the firm of Parr, Baker, Alexander and Cordes. During his years in private practice he was involved in a number of bar efforts to improve the legal profession and served a term as president of the Thurston-Mason County Bar Association. Alexander served as a judge of the superior court for Thurston and Mason Counties from 1973 through 1984, and as a judge for the Court of Appeals, Division Two, from 1985 through 1994.
Justice Alexander was first elected to a seat on the Washington Supreme Court in 1994 and re-elected in 2000. Shortly thereafter, his colleagues elected him to a four-year position as chief justice, and re-elected him as chief in 2004 and again in 2008. Although Justice Alexander stepped down as chief justice in January 2011, his nine years of service in that position give him the distinction of being the longest running chief justice in the state’s history. He retired from the Supreme Court on December 31, 2011. In February 2012, he became “of counsel” to the Olympia Law Firm of Bean, Gentry, Wheeler and Peternell, limiting his practice to arbitration and mediation and consulting on appellate procedure.
Justice Alexander has been involved in legal education and served on several boards, commissions and committees advising on legal matters, including chairing the Board for Judicial Administration and serving on the Statute Law Committee of the State of Washington. He is a co-founder and board member of the Washington Courts Historical Society and co-chaired the State Capitol Furnishings Preservation Committee, to help refurbish and care for the Temple of Justice and other Capitol Group buildings. Justice Alexander has also been active in his community serving in various capacities on local charitable, religious, and civic organizations. He was active in efforts to save and preserve the 1930s era Thurston County Courthouse and served as president for the Bigelow House Preservation Association.
Justice Alexander has been designated as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Washington Law School and has been awarded a Doctor of Laws by Gonzaga University. In 2012, the Legal Foundation of Washington presented him with the Charles A. Goldmark Distinguished Service Award.
He is the proud father of three adult children and has nine grandchildren.