Login | February 18, 2019

Domestic Relations Court community outreach director retires

Longtime Summit County Domestic Relations Court Community Outreach Director Sue Tucker retired on June 29. The day before a lunch reception was held in the ceremonial courtroom to pay tribute to her many years of service. Pictured at the luncheon from the left are retired Summit County Domestic Relations Court Judge Judith Nicely, Summit County Domestic Relations Court Judge Katarina Cook, Sue Tucker, retired Summit County Domestic Relations Court Judge Carol Dezso and Summit County Domestic Relations Court Judge John Quinn. (Photo courtesy of the Summit County Domestic Relations Court).

Legal News Reporter

Published: July 12, 2018

For more than 15 years Summit County Domestic Relations Court Community Outreach Director Susan (Sue) Tucker worked to improve the lives of families and children, coming up with compassionate solutions and earning a reputation as someone who was always ready to accept and embrace new responsibilities.

But at the end of June Tucker retired, creating a void that administrators and judges said is extremely difficult to fill.

Summit County Domestic Relations Court Judge John Quinn described Tucker as a “very warm person who cared greatly about her clients.

“We cannot fill her shoes only follow in her footsteps,” said Judge Quinn.

“She has many years of experience understanding the needs of children and she knows how to get parents to focus off their own conflicts and on their children’s needs.”

Summit County Domestic Relations Court Judge Katarina Cook said Tucker has “worn many hats at the court and worn them well.

“She has added so much value to the court during her time here,” said Judge Cook.

“Sue has a great running memory, which helped me immensely when I took the bench in January 2017 because she was able to get me up to speed on cases that began before I got here.

“She did the job of three people.”

Judge Cook said due to budgetary constraints, Tucker’s position is not being filled. Instead her duties have been divided among existing employees.

Tucker, whose last day was June 29, said she enjoyed her time at the court.

“I was always happy to come to work,” said Tucker. “The court cares deeply about families and children and I’ve always felt like I made a positive difference in people’s lives.

“But it was time to retire,” she said. “My husband is already retired and we want to travel together.”

Tucker’s husband Robert retired in January 2017 as a national vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE). Together they have six adult children from their previous marriages.

Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Tucker moved to Palmyra in Portage County, Ohio in 1980.

Tucker began her career as a social work assistant at Summit County Children Services, while working toward her bachelor’s degree in social work at The University of Akron.

Tucker received her master’s degree in clinical social work from The Ohio State University in 1996.

Two years earlier, she joined forces with her mentor Carol Miller to start Family Visitation and Mediation Services. The company worked with a variety of court systems in several counties, providing mediation, counseling and supervised visitation.

She left the business in 1999 to return to Summit County Children Services, where she served as community outreach director until retired Summit County Domestic Relations Court Judge Carol Dezso hired her in January 2003 as the community outreach director for the Summit County Domestic Relations Court.

“Sue was the first new person I hired when Judge Judy Nicely retired,” said Judge Dezso. “I believed that Sue would be able to elevate the court to another level in terms of community outreach, new programing for unmarried parents and sustaining existing programs for married parents at a high level.

“She exceeded my expectations in these areas.”

Judge Dezso said when Tucker began the court already had its ‘Remember the Children’ and ‘Positive Solutions’ programs in place to educate parents going through divorce about ways in which to minimize any negative effects on their children.

“Sue continually revised our existing ‘Remember the Children’ and ‘Positive Solutions’ programs to keep them fresh and relevant for our parents,” said Judge Dezso. “She assisted me in creating our ‘Working Together’ program for unmarried parents struggling with issues of parenting time or co-parenting,” said Judge Dezso.

The judge said Tucker provided free in-house mediation sessions to parents in conflict over their parenting orders so they didn’t have to file motions to litigate the issues.

Tucker also supervised the court’s Guardian ad Litem Program, recruiting new guardians for the court, assessing their qualifications to serve, reviewing their work, handling complaints and making certain the policies and procedures established by the Supreme Court of Ohio were followed.

“Our court was more effective and compassionate as a result of Sue’s work,” said Judge Dezso.

Sole practitioner and Guardian ad Litem Mary Randazzo worked with Tucker during her years at the court.

“My relationship with Sue is related to my work as guardian ad litem,” said Randazzo, who focuses on family, juvenile and probate matters. “It was always a blessing to work with her because she provided multiple perspectives on the issues affecting families.

“She is highly competent, very intuitive and a strong advocate for families and children,” said Randazzo.

But those are not the only tasks Tucker performed at the court.

Summit County Domestic Relations Court Administrator Ken Teleis said Tucker served as the media relations contact along with running the court’s mediation program.

“When she started here she did our informal mediation proceedings,” said Teleis. “She was extremely competent. When our full-time mediator/magistrate left, she took over the entire calendar Monday through Friday, while still keeping up with her other duties.

“She packed in so much and did everything well,” said Teleis.

While her job duties expanded over the years, Tucker said she was always up for the challenge.

“I was happy to take over the mediation program when Judge Quinn asked me to step in,” said Tucker. “I enjoy mediation and I think it’s a much better route for families than litigation.

“In the future, I might even consider opening my own private mediation firm.”

Gary Rosen, a partner at Goldman & Rosen, said Tucker has helped thousands of families resolve their differences and avoid litigation.

“I have great respect for Sue,” said Rosen. “Beyond making the workload easier to manage for all of us at the court, the programs that she has developed and revised have played an important role in helping families eliminate minor issues and zero in on what really needs to be presented to the court.

“She has accomplished so much during her tenure.”

On June 28, a lunch reception was held for Tucker in the ceremonial courtroom to pay tribute to her many years of service.

“I will miss Sue for many reasons,” said Teleis. “She was an amazing people person and a tremendous asset to the court.”

“I am going to miss the work and everyone at the court,” said Tucker.

Magistrate Diane Dougherty is now in charge of the mediation program, Family Court Services Director Randy Flick is running the Guardian ad Litem program and Deputy Court Administrator Rebecca Brown is responsible for the supervision and evaluation of the court’s education programs.

Teleis now serves as the contact person for all public relations matters.

“I hope I can come close to doing Sue justice,” he said.

“I am looking forward to beginning my second life,” said Tucker. “My husband and I just sold our house and are moving into a smaller place.

“After the dust settles and I take some time off, I’m sure I will find new ways to keep myself busy.”