Iowa’s oldest judge has retired from her duties in Polk County at the age of 90 after decades spent overseeing wills and other matters.
The Des Moines Register reports that District Associate Probate Judge Ruth Klotz said at a retirement party Thursday that she wants to travel and to pass the work on to a younger judge.
State lawmakers had written an exemption into a law that would have forced her to stop working at 80.
Klotz spent 34 years as Polk County’s chief overseer of wills, estates and legal guardianships for troubled children and the feeble elderly.
In an interview last fall with the Register, Klotz said there was no specific reason she decided to retire now.
"I just decided that I’ve been here long enough," she said. "When you think about all the people you’ve known through your life — like all the relatives who are your age level and they’re all gone — that makes you think maybe you’ve been overstaying something."
Klotz was born in Mason City in 1922 and grew up in Iowa Falls. She married lawyer Earl Fritz in 1950 and later enrolled in Drake University Law School.
She was eight months pregnant with the couple’s daughter when her husband died in a courtroom. After her daughter was born, she graduated from law school and then passed the bar exam and took a job with the Iowa Department of Revenue.
She married Richard Klotz a few years later and after developing expertise at a law firm took a position as the Polk County courthouse’s "probate referee" in 1978. She was formally named a judge in 1996.
Her husband died decades ago.
In the earlier Register interview, Senior Judge Donna Paulsen called Klotz a role model for female attorneys.
"She was not a complainer," Paulsen said. "She would just quietly go in and do her job and do her job well."
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com
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