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Honored to Keep Serving

After career of public service, Kleinheksel still gives back to community

From Washburn Law Alumni Newsletter - August 2018

Jack KleinhekselJack Kleinheksel, ’72, chose trying times to begin his Washburn University School of Law education, but he turned the experience into one which has reaped countless rewards with lifelong relationships.

Kleinheksel started at Washburn Law in January 1969. The tornado of 1966 destroyed the previous law building, and a new one – the one used today – was being constructed. Students took classes in trailers, and the heaters were so loud, they were turned off during lectures.

“By the end of class, it was freezing cold inside,” Kleinheksel said. They moved into the permanent, temperature-controlled building the following fall.

Five years removed from his undergraduate degree, he connected best with other married students pursuing new careers. He and his wife, Georgia, are still friends with three couples he met in law school.

“Those relationships were important and are still very enduring,” he said.

After graduating, Kleinheksel took a position on the legal staff of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. Within seven years, he became chief staff counsel, reporting to the chief judge of the court. He served for 25 years, overseeing numerous changes. Kleinheksel developed a procedure to utilize staff counsel in face-to-face conferences with judges for disposition of non-argument appeals. This was known as the conference calendar, and it reduced the time from notice of appeal to disposition.

“By the time I retired from government service, the program and the responsibilities that were assigned to the central legal staff were an absolute model, and they were copied widely,” he said. “That’s something I’m very proud of.”

Kleinheksel took early retirement in 1998 to devote more time to volunteering with causes important to him. As a child, he spent much of his time at the YMCA or working up the ranks as a Boy Scout to Eagle Scout. As an adult, he’s mentored about 80 boys on their way to the Eagle Scout rank, helping him become a Distinguished Eagle Scout.

He served on the local YMCA’s board of trustees and other non-profit and government regulatory boards including the Licensed Professional Counselor Examiners Board and the Colorado Board of Nursing as a public member.

“I am a great fan of reinvesting in my community,” Kleinheksel said. “I was very fortunate to have this opportunity, and I felt I needed to reinvest.”

He and his wife continue to stay active and travel a lot in retirement.

“I really enjoyed my time at Washburn, especially the friendships I built and the interchanges I had with the faculty,” he said. “And I had a wonderful career. In retirement, we’re almost busier now than when we were working full time.”

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