FREMONT — Barbara J. Ansted Wilson, a Sandusky County Common Pleas Court judge who was a champion of family mediation and programs to help ex-offenders re-enter society, died Thursday in her Fremont home. She was 67.
She learned in September she had cancer, her sister, Sue, said.
Judge Wilson last was on the bench in early February, said Pam Kindle, her executive assistant. Several weeks later she presided at a graduation of four who completed the re-entry program.
“She really did care about the people of Sandusky County,” Mrs. Kindle said.
Gov. John Kasich will name her successor. The county Republican Party central committee will meet March 28 to screen candidates and forward three names to the governor, said Justin Smith, the county chairman.
Judge Wilson, admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1978, was a former assistant county prosecutor and an acting county court judge in Woodville. In 2005, she closed her private practice to become family mediator for Sandusky, Seneca, and Ottawa counties. She was a neutral third party as each side in a custody dispute or divorce told his or her story uninterrupted by the other.
“She had a few cases where the people actually reconciled, because they had not been communicating effectively,” Mrs. Kindle said.
Judge Wilson was a candidate for common pleas judge when on June 8, 2008, her husband William, 62, and daughter Allison, 25, were killed. The plane they were riding in as part of a Lions’ Club fund-raiser crashed. She was elected that November.
“It was hard to go forward. I miss them both every day,” she told The Blade a year after the crash. “My church, my friends, and my God have gotten me through.”
Judge Wilson was a former president of the county bar association and taught at Terra State Community College.
She was born Sept. 11, 1949, to Kathryn and Laurence Steele. She was a 1967 graduate of Maumee High School. She was honored in January as a distinguished graduate.
Judge Wilson received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Wittenberg University and a law degree from Pepperdine University in California.
She liked ballroom dancing and was a dedicated tap dancer and longtime member, with her sister, of the Manhattan Dance Co. in Toledo.
Judge Wilson remained close to Robert Cochanski Rodriguez, who first stayed with the family 15 years ago as an exchange student from Germany.
Surviving are her husband, Robert Wilson, whom she married July 2, 2011; son, Andrew “A.J.” Ansted; sister, Susan Woolford, and stepsister, Phyliss Selter Hughes.
Visitation will be from 1 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Herman-Veh Funeral Home, Gibsonburg. Services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Zion Lutheran Church, where she was a member, with visitation after 10 a.m.
The family suggests tributes to the American Cancer Society; the Allison Ansted Memorial Scholarship Fund to benefit Gibsonburg High School students, in care of Fifth Third Bank, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.
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