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Judge Crippen's portrait added to courtroom walls

District Judge Gordon Moore (left) strands with retired judge Gary Crippen Friday afternoon at Prairie Justice Center in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- In an attempt to preserve history and enhance the Nobles County Courthouse, the portrait of former Worthington trial judge Gary Crippen will now hang in the courtroom. The portrait was unveiled Friday afternoon at an informal gathering at Prairie Justice Center.

Current District Court Judge Gordon Moore helped launch the idea in an effort to honor past judges. The portraits of two former Nobles County judges, Jeffrey Flynn and the late Clarence Holten, already grace the courtroom walls.

Moore said he consulted with his predecessor, Flynn, about ways to enhance the memory of past judges. Flynn welcomed the idea as a way to acknowledge other judges' work.

"I'm awful pleased that Nobles County is doing this, I think it's long overdue." Flynn said. "It will give me some company on the wall."

Moore said he is open to adding additional portraits to the collection.

"I think preserving history is essential for communities," Moore said. "I'm trying to cultivate knowledge of those who contributed to what's here today."

In his law career of more than half a century, Crippen authored more than 1,800 opinions and ruled on more than 5,000 cases, Moore said.

He added that Crippen was well respected for his thoughtfulness in decision making and writing, particularly in family law areas.

"Crippen was known as being very studious and fair and had a real interest in the rights of juveniles and how juvenile law treated kids," Moore said.

Crippen's brother, Ray, was in attendance to support his younger sibling.

"I have to take care of him and make sure he's behaving himself," Ray said, chuckling. "He tries hard, so you have to commend him every now and then."

Jackson County Judge Linda Titus attended the ceremony and said that Crippen's courtroom was the first she had worked in.

"I appreciated his patience with me as I was learning," Titus said.

Retired Rock County Judge Timothy Connell, also in attendance, said: "(Crippen) was a tremendous mentor, great role model and good friend. He did everything the way it should be done."

Crippen now lives in St. Paul, but said Worthington is where his roots are -- and where 47 years of his life were spent.

"I've been swept into urban life, but I still know where I came from and how important that is to me," Crippen said.

Although retired since 2002, he still fills in as a judge with the Minnesota District Court in St. Paul.

"It gives me a feeling of being younger than I really am; I like to keep active," Crippen said.

The portrait, which Crippen estimated was taken in 1976, was done by the late Elwin Sietsema of Worthington. Crippen gave the print to Moore, who then sent it to Rickers Photography to be retouched. Moore said the court budget covered the cost, which was less than $500.

Crippen gave his stamp of approval on the chosen portrait.

"I know the picture is acceptable because my mother liked it," he said.

Daily Globe Reporter Kayla Strayer may be reached at 376-7322.