Judge Rochester spent his first years moving from state to state while his father worked construction jobs. His father left his family when Rochester was six years old, and despite promises and occasional phone calls, never returned. Rochester's father was a prisoner of war during the Korean War, which strained his family life when he returned from the war.
Judge Rochester grew up in Clay County, Alabama, as the son of a divorced mother. Rochester's mother began as a secretary in a sewing factory, that she finally came to manage and then own. She lost the factory in the recession of the mid 1970's. By the time of her death in 1989, she was manager for two clothing factories: one in Florida and another in Louisiana. "She was a woman ahead of her time," Rochester said of his mother.
Rochester began working at an early age to help his family. In an ironic twist of fate, he shined shoes on the steps of the same Clay County Courthouse where he now sits as a respected Circuit Judge. But the road from shoeshine stand to the judge's bench was a rocky one. Judge Rochester worked at the same factory as his mother from junior high school through college to help the family scrape up a living and pay his way through school.
Rochester attended Ashland Elementary School and Clay County High School. He graduated from high school in 1973 and attended Auburn University where he double-majored in Philosophy and Political science and received a Bachelor of Arts in 1977. After receiving a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Sanford University's Cumberland School of Law in 1980, he returned to his hometown to practice law. He practiced solo for two years and in 1982 joined Fred Thompson, Jr., to form the partnership of Thompson and Rochester.
In 1982, Rochester was appointed Municipal Court Judge for the City of Ashland and in 1983 he was appointed Municipal Court Judge for the Town of Wedowee. He remained the City's Judge until 1985 when he was appointed Clay County's first resident District Court Judge.
John Rochester married his high school sweetheart Linda Willis Rochester in 1975. They have two children, Katie and John Alex.
Ashland, AL 36251