LIMA — Glenn Derryberry likens being a judge to having a seat on the 50-yard line at a football game.
“It’s the perfect window into the community; you see it all,” Derryberry said Friday afternoon as the curtain came down on his 13 years on the bench of the Allen County Probate/Juvenile Court and his 33 total years of public service with the two courts.
Employees of the judge bid farewell to their boss, mentor and friend during an staff-only farewell party as Derryberry closed the book on a career that began in 2007. Court Administrator Berlin Carroll joked that Derryberry began his career at the beginning of what would come to be known as the Great Recession and ended it in 2021 in the midst of a nationwide health pandemic.
“It’s been a tremendous challenge, but he’s done it with a lot of hard work and grace,” Carroll said. “He has always placed the safety of the staff first, and I think I can speak for all employees here, that we are proud to have served such an outstanding judge in Allen County.”
A more public event to celebrate the departure of the longtime magistrate and judge had been planned but was postponed due to concerns surrounding COVID-19 and the social distancing mandates that accompany the pandemic. A celebration that would include members of the Allen County Bar Association and other county office-holders and well-wishers will be held at a later date.
Derryberry throughout his career on the bench was the lone Democrat to hold an elected countywide office in Allen County. After announcing he would not seek office in the November 2020 election cycle, Derryberry crossed party lines to endorse the courts’ longtime chief magistrate Todd Kohlrieser as his successor.
Kohlrieser was issued the oath of office on Jan. 22 and will officially take over the juvenile/probate courts on Feb. 9. Derryberry’s last official day in office will be Sunday. Retired Allen County Judge David Cheney has been appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court to watch over the court during the interim.
Asked what he will miss most about the job, Derryberry answered, “The challenge of figuring out the hard cases. Cases are the part I love. There’s always something new and so many quirks and characters.”
And what he’ll miss least?
“The administrative part. I’m my own clerk of courts, I operate two courts and three courtrooms and I run a detention facility 24/7 … 365 days a year.” That part is never-ending, the departing judge said.
Derryberry was appointed to the role in November 2007 by then-Gov. Ted Strickland, replacing former Judge David Kinworthy, who retired after 33 years on the bench.
The judge said he’s looking forward to the free time that will come with retirement, spending time in Florida with a new granddaughter and in Boston with his son and daughter-in law.