The Barrister Fall 2017 - 11

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Gratified

Beyond Words
L

By The Honorable Jill Gehman Koestel

ife is good. Two of the most incredible chapters of my
life are coming to an end simultaneously. It is eerie. It is
magnificent! And I have many people who I would like to
thank for allowing me these experiences.
Five years ago, the members of the Berks County Bar
Association elected me to be a director of their board. Despite
the 8:00 a.m. meetings, which I dreaded (not a morning person!),
Jill Scheidt convinced me that I would love being on the board.
She was right. And the next year when I was asked by Fred Hatt
to be Vice President which would start off a four-year leadership
commitment, I readily agreed. I sincerely thank the membership
for electing me to that position and the subsequent positions
of President Elect and President (read Queen). I enjoyed, more
than I can say, the honor of being your leader. I commend Gene
Orlando, Tom Bell and Jesse Pleet for the leadership training I
received. They were great examples. As Immediate Past President
(read Queen Mother) this past year, I have had the privilege
of watching current President Kurt Althouse continue the
traditions and begin new initiatives to keep our organization
moving forward. We have challenges ahead. I am confident that
new President Joan London is prepared to lead us through them.
I will forever be proud of having my portrait hanging in the
gallery of Past Presidents and again I thank all of you for that
honor.
Speaking of honor, I am eternally grateful for the extremely
high honor imposed on me by our Governor when on June
28, 2016, I was commissioned as a Judge of the Berks County
Court of Common Pleas. This did not happen in a vacuum. I
thank all of my friends and colleagues who wrote letters to our
Berks County State Senators and directly to the Governor to
encourage my appointment. I also must thank the Berks County
Commissioners for approving an appointment in general, and
Senator Judy Schwank and Representative Tom Caltagirone
whom I know specifically whispered my name in the ear of
the Governor. After the appointment was secured and I began
my 18-month stint on the bench, my judicial colleagues could
not have been more gracious and helpful. I appreciate their
willingness to hear my thoughts and concerns with open minds
and reciprocal guidance. We have an amazing bench. Our
judges are enormously efficient and hard working. Each of their
individual commitment to the job is a gift to our community of
which most citizens are not even aware. Our Bar Association
should be continually cognizant of our judges' willingness and
admirable abilities to resolve litigation. Thank you to all of
them for embracing me into their ranks. I particularly would
like to thank President Judge Yatron for assignments that were
interesting and familiar to me, and which I thoroughly enjoyed
handling.

Last, but certainly not least,
I thank my family, particularly
my saintly husband, Bob, who
encouraged and supported all of
these experiences. Sacrifices were
made to allow me to simultaneously be Queen, then Queen
Mother, as well as Judge these past months. I acknowledge and
appreciate it all.
Reading over what I have just written, it seems like a swan
song, and in effect it pretty much is. At the end of the year, I
will be retiring from the practice of law. However, I am not
sailing into the sunset. The board of judges has agreed to appoint
me as one of the two equitable distribution masters so that I
can continue to serve the family law community. Along with
this part-time position, I will be devoting myself to the role of
grandmother (read Monie) to Avery Koestel (who as I write this
is waiting to be born) and to Lizzy and Adam Mumma. Yes, life
is good. And I am grateful beyond words. . . but I tried.

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Fall 2017 | 11


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The Barrister Fall 2017

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