Longtime Balto. Co. court clerk, judge dies

Suzanne K. Mensh served county for nearly 50 years

March 30, 2012|By Steve Kilar, The Baltimore Sun

Suzanne K. Mensh, who ran Baltimore County's orphans' court for two decades and served as Circuit Court clerk for six terms, died Wednesday at Northwest Hospital.

Her family said no cause of death was given. Mensh, 82, had been admitted to the hospital four days earlier because of her deteriorating physical condition, said a son, Spencer Mensh of Reisterstown.

"She loved, heart and soul, what she did," he said by phone Friday.

Mensh served as the clerk of the Baltimore County Circuit Court from 1986 until May 2010. Before that, she was a judge on the county's orphans' court for 22 years, including 20 years as its chief judge.

Mensh was a lively campaigner and did not hesitate to respond to attacks from her opponents.

In 1990, Democratic primary opponent A. Gordon Boone III, who was her subordinate in the clerk's office, circulated photographs of courthouse file rooms that he said showed the office was poorly run. Mensh accused Boone of security violations by taking and distributing the photos.

Mensh then ordered Boone, who was taking an unpaid leave of absence to run his campaign, to come back to work before the race was over. He sued her to prevent his firing and she responded by revealing his drunken-driving record.

Mensh beat Boone with more than 60 percent of the vote. And she let him come back to work in the clerk's office.

"My opponent started slinging mud early on," Mensh said after the election.

She retired in 2010, six months before the end of her term, but decided to run again in the September Democratic primary.

Mensh placed second among the five contenders. It was the only countywide election she lost in her 48-year civil service career.

By the time she retired, at 80, she was overseeing a staff of about 125. She also served as a member of the state Judicial Ethics Committee and panels that handled personnel issues and staff development in the courts.

"I enjoy serving the public in a job that is interesting and challenging," she told The Baltimore Sun in 2010. "After all these years, I am still excited about coming to work."

Mensh was born in Atlantic City, N.J., and her family moved to Maryland when she was a child, Spencer Mensh said. She lived in Pikesville for most of her life.

In addition to her son, survivors include another son, Paul Mensh of Australia; a sister, Roberta Lerner of Bethesda; and two grandchildren.

Services will be held Monday morning at Sol Levinson and Bros. in Pikesville.



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