Glen George and Heather Gockel county's first father-daughter judges
By Brian Sweeney
When Heather Gockel took her position as Roxbury Town Justice on January 1, she and her father, Middletown Town Justice Glen George, became the first daughter-father judge team in Delaware County history.
Having grown up as the daughter of a state trooper, who became a justice after he retired from his first career, Heather was very familiar with the demands of these two professions.
In addition, she gained extensive experience in the legal procedures while serving more than four years as the court clerk in Roxbury. When Roxbury Justice Sonny Braceros passed away last year, Heather decided she would be interested in filling the position.
She ran unopposed in November’s election and earned the right to serve as one of Roxbury’s justices.
Heather attended classes in Syracuse to train for her judgeship and received certification in December. The job will require 12 continuing education credits every year to maintain certification.
“There is frequent training and a lot you have to know to stay on top of things. It’s a commitment,” Heather stated.
She added, “I’m not exactly looking forward to the 2 a.m. arraignments, but as the daughter of state trooper and a judge and having been a court clerk, these parts of the job are not unexpected.”
Heather was well acquainted with the duties of both police and justices since her father has served more 20 years in both capacities.
After retiring from the New York State Police, Glen George replaced retiring Justice Sollie Darling in July 1985. He officially ran for the position that fall and has served as a Middletown Justice since then.
Glen said he had no idea his daughter would follow in his judicial foots, but he is nonetheless pleased that she has chosen to serve her community in this fashion.
“She’s always found it very interesting. Being raised in a judicial family – she’s been around it and knows the troopers,” noted Heather’s mother, Jeanne.
Heather and her husband, Ray, and their two small daughters, Hailey and Olivia, reside in Grand Gorge. In Heather’s day job she serves as the comptroller at the Emerson Resort and Spa in Mt. Tremper.
Her new job as town justice provides an entirely different set of challenges, but Heather is up to the task.
Besides, if questions arise, Heather says she won’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give a call to the local “law library” — also known as the Middletown Justice Court. Middletown is the only town in the county that has the entire up-to-date McKinney’s Law Library collection, Glen pointed out.
For Heather Gockel, it is this type of cooperation and guidance that helped pave the way to follow in her father’s judicial footsteps.