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If you thought a cup of coffee with a friend couldn’t change the course of your life, just ask Judge Michael Murry and Pete Creamer.
Murry and Creamer have been friends for nearly 40 years, but it was a meeting over coffee at Tim Horton’s that put them on a new path. Murry had just been elected as Xenia Municipal Court Judge and was due to start his tenure on January 1, 2008, but before he took office, he needed to find a Clerk of Court. Murry had been told the position was the most important hire a judge makes, and he couldn’t think of anyone more suitable for the job than Pete Creamer. So, it was over a cup of coffee when he asked his longtime friend, “you wouldn’t want to be my Clerk of Court, would you?”
Twelve years later, as Judge Murry prepares to leave office at the end of the year for retirement, he looks back at that meeting, and hiring Pete Creamer, calling it the “single best decision he’s ever made.” Creamer, who will also leave his position at the end of the year, had no prior law experience, having been a pastor at the First Church of Christ on Ledbetter Road for 30 years. Creamer recalls being surprised by Murry’s offer, but lives by a personal motto of ‘Think Free,’ and decided “it was time to do something different.”
Two terms in office later, the friends say their strengths and personalities have complimented each other to benefit how the court runs and ultimately, the public. As Clerk of Court, Creamer acts as a court administrator, making sure the court is compliant with legislation and is responsible for keeping records. Judge Murry describes Creamer as “the most organized, self-motivating human being I’ve ever met.” Creamer’s efficiency allows Judge Murry focus on what he most enjoys, being in the courtroom and working to help people.
Michael Murry’s career didn’t start in a courtroom; he was first a high school English teacher and guidance counselor at Cedarville High School. However, he decided law was the career path he wanted to pursue, and began working on his law degree from the University of Dayton Law School. Murry was in private practice for 24 years and during that time, realized a judge was a position that could have a big impact on lives. After talking it over with his wife, they decided if he was going to run for judge, it was ‘now or never,’ so he got to work and was elected.
During his time as Xenia Municipal Court Judge, Murry said oftentimes, the people who stand before him in the courtroom suffer from trouble with alcohol, drugs or mental health issues. Judge Murry has focused on programs to help individuals get healthy, rather than just putting them in jail. “We get people education and assistance so they become productive members of the community and don’t end up across the street with felony charges,” he said.
One of the goals Murry and Creamer both had when they got to work in 2008 was to build a liaison between the Court and City leaders. It’s a goal they feel has been met over the past 12 years, “I’ve truly enjoyed working with current City leadership,” Creamer said. Judge Murry echoes the feeling, “I cannot thank the City Manager and City Council enough for their support for what we do here at the court and for allowing us to make the office better to serve the public.”
Murry and Creamer’s last day on the job will be December 31, 2019 and the big question now is: what’s next? Judge Murry is planning to take time and travel with his wife; they plan to visit Italy in the spring. He also plans to spend more time with his two granddaughters. As for Creamer, “I’m not calling it ‘retirement,’” he said, while he doesn’t know what’s next, he does know he will keep busy. Creamer is full of energy and is a regular visitor to the YMCA. He enjoys structure in life and says this next chapter will be an adjustment, but it’s another chance for him to ‘Think Free.’
Creamer remains focused on his current responsibilities as Clerk of Court, “my goal is to pass the baton as cleanly as possible.” As he looks back at his tenure at Xenia Municipal Court, Creamer said he’s enjoyed the challenges the position has presented, “I love learning new things; this has been a chance for me to learn.”
As the pair’s time with the Court winds down, Judge Murry reflects that “time has flown,” and calls the past 12 years the “highlight of my legal career.” When asked what he hopes the public remembers about his tenure as judge, he had this to say, “You’re going to be heard, treated with respect and dignity. If people say that about my time here, I will have accomplished what I hoped.”