By RYAN DUNN
The death of Richard Rinebolt, a retired Hancock County Common Pleas Court judge, on Monday marked the loss of a fair man who cared deeply for the law, friends and family said.
Rinebolt had a lengthy career of public service to Findlay, Hancock County and his country.
He enlisted in 1942 as an aviation cadet for the U.S. Army Air Corps.
Rinebolt was a World War II fighter pilot who flew 30 missions for the 4th Fighter Group. He was shot down in January 1945 during an air-sea rescue attempt over the North Sea.
After graduating from Ohio Northern University law school in 1948, Rinebolt went on to serve as both prosecutor and judge in Findlay Municipal Court and Hancock County Common Pleas Court.
He joined the common pleas court as judge in 1979 when a second judicial position was added.
Rinebolt served there until retiring in 1990. He worked as a visiting judge until 1997.
Rinebolt died of natural causes Monday at Birchaven Village. He was 91 years old.
He was born in 1922 in Bradner before moving to Findlay as a youth and later graduating from Findlay High School.
His son, David Rinebolt, said the judge was held in high regard for his work and demeanor.
“He took great pride in managing the docket and made sure justice was swift,” David Rinebolt said.
Judge Rinebolt had said the only jobs he wanted were lawyer and judge. He maintained his legal qualifications for years after retiring, his son said.
Rinebolt was proud of both his work to preserve the courthouse law library and his military service, David Rinebolt said.
He balanced long hours of work with being a dedicated father and husband, his son said.
“You knew he was on your side,” David Rinebolt said.
Judge Rinebolt brought a “very even-tempered” approach to the job, said Hancock County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Niemeyer.
“He knew what it took to be a good county prosecutor and a good judge,” Niemeyer said.
Rinebolt encouraged Niemeyer to run when Rinebolt was about to retire, Niemeyer said. That support was meaningful, Niemeyer said.
The legal community will miss his stories and humor, Niemeyer said.
Hancock County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Allan Davis said he knew Rinebolt all his life.
Rinebolt and Davis’ father were “old fishing buddies,” Davis said.
It was a pleasure to hear Rinebolt’s stories about military and law, told with a droll sense of humor, Davis said.
Rinebolt showed fairness as a prosecutor and was willing to listen to those seeking lesser charges, Davis said.
Rinebolt possessed a knack for remembering those who practice law in the area. He regularly wrote Findlay-Hancock County Bar Association resolutions honoring attorneys, Davis said.
“So much of the history of the bar association died with Judge Rinebolt,” Davis said.
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