Justice Donald C. Wintersheimer was born on April 21, 1931 and died peacefully at his home in Covington, Ky. on February 18, 2021. Justice Wintersheimer was married to Alice Rabe Wintersheimer for almost 60 years. He was the cherished son of the late Carl and Marie Wintersheimer. He was the dear father of Mark Wintersheimer, who passed away on January 18, 2021, Lisa Wintersheimer Michel (Tim), Craig Wintersheimer (Susan), Amy Wintersheimer Findley (Chris), and Blaise Wintersheimer. He was also the proud grandfather of Kyndal Michel Marks (Sam), Kirsten, Kassidy, and Karley Michel, Adam, Claire, and Elizabeth Wintersheimer, and Ashley, Jacob, and Allison Findley, and the great-grandfather of Henry Donald Marks.
Justice Wintersheimer was a true scholar and gentleman, who lived a life dedicated to public service. Justice Wintersheimer was raised in Bellevue, attended grade school at Sacred Heart Elementary, and graduated from Newport Catholic High School. He received an A.B. degree from Villa Madonna College (now Thomas More University) in 1953 and proudly served in the U.S. Army Infantry from 1953 to 1955. He then received an M.A. degree from Xavier University in 1957, and his J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1960.
Throughout his life, Justice Wintersheimer was an extraordinarily hard worker, who was always humble and kind, and committed to securing justice for all. He began his legal career in private practice and served as the City Solicitor for Covington for fourteen years. He soon became known as a pioneer in the area of consumer protection and was characterized as the proverbial “Don Quixote” battling the windmills of the powerful utility companies. Justice Wintersheimer won that battle and many others obtaining a $1.3 million refund for Northern Kentucky consumers. In 1976, he was elected to the Kentucky Court of Appeals where he served until his election to the Kentucky Supreme Court in 1982. He was re-elected three times and served on the Kentucky Supreme Court for 24 years until his retirement at the end of 2006. Justice Wintersheimer was the most prolific opinion writer in Kentucky history, averaging over 50 opinions each year. His opinions addressed significant issues including establishing the Family Court in Kentucky; allowing for economic development such as the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Kentucky; allowing child witnesses to testify via closed circuit television; upholding open records laws and laws imposing strict standards on drunk drivers.
Justice Wintersheimer was a brilliant teacher and regarded as an esteemed legal scholar in the field of State Constitutional Law. He first taught Business Law at Thomas More College, then taught Kentucky Constitutional Law as an adjunct faculty member of the Chase College of Law for over 20 years. He wrote numerous articles on Constitutional Law and was frequently published in legal journals including the Chase Law Review, New York University Law Review, Temple University Law Review, Albany Law Review and Quinnipiac University Law Review. Justice Wintersheimer also is the author of the Secrets of the Kentucky Supreme Court published in 2010.
He was a founding member of the Chase Inn of Court and was a dedicated member of countless boards including the American Judicature Society, Institute of Judicial Administration, American Society of Writers on Legal Subjects, Board of Visitors of Chase and UC College of Law, Board of Advisors of WNKU, and Foster Parent Review Board. Justice Wintersheimer received awards and recognitions for his public service including the Monsignor Murphy Award, Lincoln Award and an Honorary Doctor of Law from NKU, Distinguished Alumni Award from UC College of Law, Award of Excellence from Chase, Distinguished Alumni Award, Community Service Award and Outstanding Teacher Award from Thomas More University, CLE Award from the Kentucky Bar Association, Life Fellow Award from the Kentucky Bar Foundation, Recognition Award from the IOLTA Commission, and Phi Alpha Delta Outstanding Jurist Award. Justice Wintersheimer served as president of the Thomas More Alumni Association and Kentucky Municipal Attorneys’ Association.
Justice Wintersheimer was a devoted family man and a devout Roman Catholic, who was admired for his dedication, intelligence, principle and sincerity. He presided at countless swearing in ceremonies of new lawyers and elected officials, including perhaps most notably and memorably, that of his wife, Alice, when she became a Covington City Commissioner. His signature opening refrain for each of these ceremonies was “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad.” Psalms 118:24. It truly is.
Visitation will be held at Middendorf Funeral Home, 3312 Madison Pike, Ft. Wright, Ky. on Tuesday, February 23, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption, 1101 Madison Avenue, Covington, Ky. on Wednesday, February 24, at 11:00 a.m. Memorial donations are requested in lieu of flowers and are suggested to Newport Central Catholic High School, 13 Carothers Road, Newport, Ky. 41071 or Thomas More University, 333 Thomas More Parkway, Crestview Hills, Ky. 41017.