Former Iowa Chief Justice Dies At Age 95

Mar 28, 2016

W. Ward Reynoldson, the former Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, has died. He was 95 years old.

Reynoldson sat on the state’s high court for 16 years, from 1971 to 1987. For nine of these years, Reynoldson served as chief justice. 

"The Iowa court family is saddened by the passing of former Chief Justice Ward Reynoldson," says current Chief Justice Mark Cady in an emailed statement. "He always projected the highest standards in everything he did."

During Reynoldson's tenure on the court, Iowa's judiciary saw many changes. These changes include requiring lawyers and judges to periodically take legal education classes to keep their law licenses current, judicial district redistricting, and the introduction of cameras into Iowa courtrooms.

"He had a strong sensitively to the public interest involved," says retired Associate Justice Mark McCormick, who sat on the court with Reynoldson from 1972-1986. "He was a great ambassador for the court." 

Reynoldson was born in St. Edward, Nebraska on May 17, 1920. He graduated from the State Teachers College in Wayne Nebraska in 1942, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II from 1942-1945, and the University of Iowa Law School in 1948. 

"Justice Reynoldson swore me in both as an attorney in 1974 and as governor in 1983.  He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and was a dedicated public servant with a distinguished career as Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court," says Gov. Terry Branstad in an emailed statement. "I always had great admiration and respect for him and he will be greatly missed.”      

Reynolds authored 493 majority opinions, 33 dissenting opinions, and 17 concurring opinions during his tenure.

He is survived by his wife Pat.