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Court Administrator retires after 33 years

justine wettschreck/Daily Globe Rock-Nobles County District Court Administrator Sandi Hensley will retire Thursday after 33 years and a day of working with the courts.

WORTHINGTON -- As of today, Sandi Hensley has worked for the courts for 33 years. Thursday is her last day, and Friday she's leaving for a girls' weekend of shopping and fun. After more than three decades, retirement is literally right around the corner.

Hensley started as a deputy clerk of courts in Rock County March 21, 1979. Back then, there were both county and district courts, typewriters and carbon paper were still in use and there wasn't a copy machine in sight.

"How did we do that?" Hensley asked with a laugh.

At the time she accepted the position in Rock County, her youngest child was still in preschool. The court administrator's office handled birth and death certificates, marriage records and even renewed driver's licenses.

"Now we have traffic tickets from the state patrol being filed electronically," Hensley said. "Within a few years, most documents will be handled that way."

She was appointed Rock County Court Administrator June 1, 1998, and on April 1, 2010, she took on the added responsibility of Nobles County Court Administrator, traveling back and forth from Luverne to Worthington several times a week.

"We take care of anything that comes into the courts, opening files, handling the court schedule, making the calls for jury duty," she explained. "We process court orders and distribute the information, sending it out to the different agencies involved."

Her favorite part of the job, Hensley said, has been the opportunity to meet such kind, hardworking people -- staff, judges and other court administrators in the district.

"Today when I walked in the building, I was sad," she admitted. "I'm going to miss the people."

Another part of the job she has always especially enjoyed is performing civil marriage ceremonies, something she hopes to continue doing even after her retirement.

When she was first appointed to administrate both counties, life was a little hectic. Mondays were spent in Rock County, Tuesdays in Nobles County, and the rest of the week she "played it by ear," depending on what was happening in the courts. When she leaves, Steve Schulze, who currently administrates Murray and Pipestone County courts, will handle all four.

"Something like that wouldn't have worked as well way back, but I think they'll do OK," Hensley said. "There may be times when they have to scoot people around a little bit."

Several of the courts in the Fifth Judicial District have been in a bit of a whirlwind lately, she said, with new judges in Rock and Nobles counties. But that whirlwind will have to continue on without her.

She already had plans to spend the weekend with her daughters and step-daughter, and with eight grandchildren -- four in Luverne and four in Sioux Falls, S.D. -- she expects to be attending a lot of musical performances and sporting events in the future.

She would also like to take advantage of some volunteering opportunities, and plans on spending more time with her mother, who lives in Edgerton.

"I like to quilt, read and golf. I'm not worried about filling time," she laughed.

She and her husband of three years generally visit Florida for a few weeks every winter, and now hope to do more traveling, extending those trips.

"I suspect it will feel at first like I'm on vacation," she admitted. "But once a month or so has passed, I'm sure I'll be keeping myself busy."