40 years of service: City of Dickinson honors Judge Keogh
Judge Robert Keogh, a Dickinson municipal court judge, has been serving his community for 40 years. Keogh was honored at City Hall in a ceremony and again during the regularly scheduled city commission meeting.
DICKINSON — During a regular bimonthly Dickinson City Commission meeting on Tuesday evening, Clerk of Court Amy Spangler addressed the commission on the four decades of service provided to the city by Judge Robert Keogh. Mayor Scott Decker honored Keogh's tenured fidelity by presenting him with an award.
“This is a very momentous occasion for the city of Dickinson. It's not every day that we have employees, let alone elected officials, who have served our community for such a long period of time," Spangler said. "This is Judge Keogh’s 40th year as the Municipal Court Judge and his 10th term in office. That's something we as a city should be very proud of, to recognize one of our own who has chosen to stay here and give us the dedicated service that he has for all this time."
Keogh expressed gratitude to city officials for their support and acknowledgment.
“I'd like to thank the commission. This wouldn't be possible without your support. Not just you, but prior commissioners as well. As I said before, I've gone through a lot of commissioners,” he said.
Deputy Clerk of Court Marie Bruner also had kind words to offer.
“When he had his shoulder surgery we dreaded the possibility of having another judge besides him. Because he's old school. He doesn't stray from what needs to be done,” Bruner said.
She added the Judge's considerate and thoughtful approach to his duty impacts people.
“Some of your career judges, they don't seem to want to put in the effort or the brainpower to assess not just the case, but the person,” she said. “I mean, he takes the time when other judges are just like, ‘yeah send him to jail,’ or ‘just just let her go.’ He'll take the time to go through it and make sure it's the right decision. And I actually attribute most of that to his wife, Priscilla.”
Priscilla Keogh, who has worked at Trinity Catholic Schools as a music teacher for over 20 years, was all smiles. Keogh's fellow loyal parishioners at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Dickinson, where Priscilla is the music director, attended the event honoring "Bob."
“It's just wonderful to see 40 years of service. What a great man. Just a man of honor and integrity, really proud of him and his family. They’re cornerstones of our church,” Father Robert Shea said. “I love having them as parishioners.”
Keogh met his wife Priscilla in 1969. Both attended the University of North Dakota, but never crossed paths until they were both in Washington D.C. working for then Sen. Quentin Burdick.
“I know he wouldn't have run for another term if he didn't love it so much. And that's one of the main reasons that he did win again is because he loves what he does. I guess I feel that when a person loves what they do, do it well, have good health and they're doing a service for the community; then it's worth it,” Priscilla said. “I've never, in all the years, ever heard him complain about having to go to work on Thursday money, which is his court day. And he's just got such a positive attitude about it.”
She’s often noticed the impact he’s had on people in the community when they’re out and about together.
“One of the things that I really think is important, is how many times we've run into people who say that, for whatever reason, they had a hearing before him and something happened that made them change their lives. That's happened many times,” she said.
Keogh also works as a private attorney in the family court system.
“I know what's going on with some of these cases and it's breaking my heart, but he's able to separate himself from that and be able to live a normal life without being affected,” she said. “I absolutely could not do what he does but he’s so good at it. He’s busy as he’s ever been, there’s no end to people needing help.”
Two of Keogh’s five children and several of his grandchildren made a surprise visit to come to the award ceremony.
Keogh said he was prompted to pursue a career in law by his educational experiences.
“When I was a senior in high school I won a contest with the American Bar Association. Then when I was in college, still stumbling around, I read a book by a New York trial lawyer. There were some high profile cases he wrote about, and that really got me going,” he said. “I read it again 30 years later. It was just as inspiring.”
He also said he loves the Dickinson area.
“It’s been such a great community for us. My wife’s a musician. We’re involved in a lot of things, including the church. I just have so many connections,” Keogh said. “It’s hard to think about leaving.”