Jeanne Sager | Democrat
CHIEF ASSISTANT DISTRICT Attorney Jim Farrell, right, reads a proclamation from the DA's Office as retired Town of Delaware Judge William Schultz looks on at last Friday's ceremony at the Rockland House.
The 'People's Judge' is honored and feted
By Jeanne Sager
ROSCOE He’s the man they had in mind when they coined the term “the people’s judge.”
Warm, intelligent, fair.
Judge William Schultz ruled from the Town of Delaware bench for 43 years with a kind smile that reaches to the crinkles beside his eyes and a firm hand.
Now he’s handing in his robes, making way for a new era of justices meting out… well, justice.
The packed dining room at the Rockland House in Roscoe Friday night was a testament to 43 years of fairness. His seven children and their families were joined by co-workers from the Town of Delaware, neighbors, friends and fellow justices.
Even out of his robes, the crowd wanted to celebrate with Judge Schultz just as they have each election since 1965.
In those days, the Callicoon resident worked days at New York Telephone and served nights as a justice and town board member.
His late wife, Claire, was secretary to the town supervisor.
Together they raised seven kids, who later gave them grandkids… and then great-grandkids.
“Dad always said it was hard to lose an election with so many registered voters at home,” son Joe said to a room of laughter Friday evening.
Turning serious, Joe looked to his dad and spoke not only for himself but his siblings.
“It’s been an honor to be known only as a son or daughter of Judge William Schultz,” he said, a sad grin playing on his lips.
It’s no wonder the name Schultz is linked first to the word judge.
The Town of Delaware’s second justice, who now takes the reins as the longest serving on the town’s bench, is H. John Kramer of Hortonville.
“When Bill was first elected, I was still in high school,” he said with a laugh.
The retired accountant did the math on Schultz’s tenure for 18.5 percent of the time that’s passed since the Declaration of Independence was signed, Judge Schultz has been on the bench.
Offering a sampling of the life of a judge, Kramer spoke of middle-of-the-night calls for arraignments and mediating disputes involving friends and neighbors, of having to decide to break up families for the sake of the children.
He read letters from other court officials, using words like “legendary” to describe his long-time colleague, mentor and friend.
Stepping in to represent vacationing Sullivan County District Attorney Steve Lungen, Chief Assistant DA Jim Farrell spoke of Schultz’s fairness and compassion.
“He treated everyone it didn’t matter who he treated everyone with honor, with dignity, with compassion,” Farrell said. “That’s what a judge is supposed to be.”
Schultz accepted a pile of plaques and the heapings of praise with that same warm smile and quick wit.
“I’m not just going to disappear into the woodwork,” he warned. “I’ll always be around at the town hall… because they have coffee… price is right too!”
Then like his son, he too turned serious.
He thanked his fellow public servants at the town hall for their own years of dedication, for giving back to their community as he has for the past 43 years.
Whenever they need help, he’ll be there.
“I’ll continue to work for the Town of Delaware as long as I’m able to be of some service,” he promised.