Lawrence judge Cooper prepares for retirement
IRONTON — Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Charles “Chuck” Cooper has spent some 40 years at the Lawrence County Courthouse, but he isn’t quite ready to put down his gavel yet.
Cooper, 71, has served 12 years as judge and 28 years as an assistant prosecuting attorney. He will be leaving the bench next year, but not before he presides over one more murder trial scheduled to start Monday, Dec. 17, in Ironton.
Ohio requires judges to retire and not seek another term when they reach age 70. He was honored Wednesday for his time as judge and four decades of service to Lawrence County.
During his time on the bench, Cooper has spent time with a number of jurors. While some of them try to get out of jury duty, “at least three of them each time want to do it again.”
There are two areas where public participation is critical in this country, Cooper said.
“One is the jury box, and the other is the ballot box,” he said.
“This job has been such an honor and a privilege,” said Cooper.
While he can’t run again, Cooper will continue to serve as a retired assigned judge at several Southeastern Ohio counties.
“I still hope to keep my hand in,” he said.
When he isn’t wielding a gavel next year, Cooper will be spending more time with his children and grandchildren. If anyone really needs him, though, they should try to catch him at the Ironton Country Club.
“My success has been my wife, Annette,” Cooper said. He and Annette have been married nearly 40 years. “She has been a spouse and a best friend.”
He also talked about two people who have kept him on track during his time on the bench. Barb Sites, his secretary of 41 years, and John Smith, a former Ohio state highway patrol trooper who has served as his bailiff. Court security personnel also have been great to work with, he said.
Gretchen Walsh, his daughter, could have told a packed courtroom a million stories about her dad. She spared the crowd, but did tell about her first days at Whitwell Elementary School in Ironton at the age of 6. Asked whose girl she was, Gretchen replied, “Daddy’s.”
“We are always proud of you,” Walsh said. “You have made this a great community to live in.”
“You have done a great job as judge and will be truly missed,” said Prosecuting Attorney Brigham Anderson.