- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—District Judge Samuel Goldstrohm is retiring Friday after 34 years on the bench in Rural Valley.

“I can honestly say there hasn’t been a day when I didn’t want to get out of bed and come to work,” said Goldstrohm, 66. “It’s been a great job, but I think now is a good time to spend some more time with my wife and grandchildren.”

He’ll be replacing his robes with overalls Saturday when he starts building a barn and fencing at his Cowanshannock home to house ponies for his grandchildren. He also plans to spend more time with his wife, Cheryl, who recently retired from teaching at Dayton Elementary School.

“I’m going to enjoy my family,” Goldstrohm said. “It’s going to be nice to have some time to sit back and relax.”

Relaxation is something the Armstrong County native hasn’t had a lot of for several decades. He earned a bachelor’s in criminology in 1972 and master’s in criminal justice in 1976 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In addition to being a judge, he’s been a part-time professor of criminology at IUP since he earned his master’s degree. He retired from that job in May.

Goldstrohm started his career in Armstrong County’s Juvenile and Adult Probation Office after graduation, later becoming its director. He was recruited to run for office in the 1980 election by Armstrong County President Judge Alex House and Judge J. Frank Graff. He said the proposition caught him off guard.

“I was registered to vote and that was the extent of my political background. I had no idea how to run a campaign,” he said. “But I thought about it and decided, ‘Why not?’ I ran against seven people in that first election and haven’t been opposed since.”

The job has changed over the years. For instance, it was 20 years before he issued his first protection from abuse order in a domestic violence case. Now, he said he issues at least two per week.

But one thing that never changed is how the community saw his office as more than a court, he said. Goldstrohm said people would often come to his office for reasons that had nothing to do with the judicial system.

“I’ve done everything from help our seniors balance their checkbooks and file rent rebate paperwork, to discussing problems with aging and computers,” Goldstrohm said laughing. “We never charged them for the help. That’s just being part of the community.”

A replacement to fill out the final 2 1/2 years of Goldstrohm’s sixth term will have to be appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate. Until that happens, retired District Judges Mike Gurkime of New Bethlehem and Dan George of Gilpin will handle the court’s cases, Goldstrohm said.

Monday marked the last time Goldstrohm will hear criminal cases in his courtroom. He plans to leave the office on a happier note on Friday.

“My final act is going to be officiating a wedding for one of our state troopers,” Goldstrohm said. “It’ll be nice to see tears of joy in the courtroom that last time, instead of tears of stress and worry.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or [email protected]

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(c)2015 The Leader Times (Kittanning, Pa.)

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