XENIA — Former longtime Greene County Prosecuting Attorney William Schenck, 71, died Friday, according to a release from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
His peers and friends remembered him Friday as a talented attorney, a strong advocate for victims of crime and a good person.
“He was one of the most skilled trial lawyers I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing,” retired Judge Bob Hutcheson, Greene County Common Pleas Court, said. “He was bright and quick on his feet. He was a charming person. … He’s one of the individuals that we find in our lives that we can say, ‘I am really glad to have known a person like that.’ He was unique in so many ways, and he will be missed.”
Greene County Sheriff Gene Fischer echoed Hutcheson’s comments.
“He was somebody that could walk into a courtroom and present a case to a jury in such a way as to have them thinking about everything,” Fischer said. “Because of that, he was a very successful prosecutor. His approach to his cases, once in the courtroom, he could be somebody that people could look at and learn from when he did trials.”
Schenck served as the chief trial lawyer in the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office before being elected as the county’s prosecuting attorney in 1980. He was subsequently re-elected to six more terms. He was then appointed as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, where he served for five years before becoming a senior adviser and assistant attorney general in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
“Throughout the last 40 years, Bill was my trusted adviser, whom I consistently relied upon for his wisdom, advice, and perspective on countless policy and political issues,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said in a release. “He was always willing to help and provide input, even volunteering to come to Washington and work with my Senate legal team and me during the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton.”
Judge Michael Buckwalter, Greene County Common Pleas Court, remembered Schenck as “lightning fast” on his feet and as having an “incomparable ability to identify with any juror of any walk of life or any socioeconomic level.”
“He was quite the trial attorney,” Judge Buckwalter said. “He was revered amongst his colleagues as one of the best trial attorneys in Ohio. … Any time Bill was trying a case, people flocked, especially young attorneys, because they heard Bill Schenck was trying a case.”
Hutcheson acknowledged Schenck’s “personal difficulties” in recent years, but said, “I would not want some of those issues to detract from the fact that he devoted his professional life to being a very strong advocate for victims of crime. He excelled in that goal.”
“Bill Schenck was my friend,” DeWine said in his release. “He was a part of our family. And Fran and I will miss him greatly.”
Scott Halasz contributed to this story.