Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Oldest Ohio Retired Judge Dies at 105

Image of Joe Milton Moorhead

Former Hancock County Judge Joe M. Moorhead, believed to be the oldest retired judge in Ohio, died March 1 at age 105.

Image of Joe Milton Moorhead

Former Hancock County Judge Joe M. Moorhead, believed to be the oldest retired judge in Ohio, died March 1 at age 105.

Joe Milton Moorhead, believed to be the oldest retired judge in Ohio, died Saturday at age 105 with his family by his side, according to an obituary today in The (Findlay) Courier.

Court News Ohio profiled Judge Moorhead on April 26, on the eve of his 105th birthday.

He graduated from Ohio Northern University’s College of Law in 1938, passed the bar the next year, and practiced in Findlay before his election as Hancock County prosecutor one year later. His tenure as prosecuting attorney was interrupted for two years when he served in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Judge Moorhead switched from the bar to the bench in 1949 when he was elected probate judge. In 1953, he was elected to the common pleas bench and served until his retirement in 1976.

Judge Moorhead told The Courier on his 100th birthday that several changes to the courts, including the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Gideon v. Wainwright requiring judges to assign attorneys to poor defendants, transformed the justice system.

“It brought a lot of changes by the time I was leaving,” Judge Moorhead said at the time. “It was very different.”

Born April 27, 1908 in Hancock County’s Liberty Township, he was the oldest of six children. He was married to the former Jean Elizabeth Pfau for 63 years before her death on October 19, 2004.

According to his obituary, “in spite of difficult times, his parents were determined he should have a college education, and in 1930, he graduated from Ohio State University, where he was an active member of TKE fraternity. He then taught history, social studies and science at Arlington High School and coached.”

The obituary called his law degree a “childhood dream” that “became reality.”

He enjoyed golf, delighted in roses, and was proud of his Scotch-Irish ancestry and his Presbyterian heritage, the obituary noted.

Visitation will be held from 3 to 5 and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Kirkpatrick-Behnke Funeral Home, 500 Lima Avenue, Findlay. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the First Presbyterian Church, 2330 South Main Street, Findlay, with the Rev. Patrick Cherry officiating. Burial will be in Maple Grove Cemetery, 1120 West Main Cross Street, Findlay, with a 2 p.m. graveside service.

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