Cover photo for Moria Grace Krueger's Obituary
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1944 Moria 2024

Moria Grace Krueger

March 14, 1944 — April 25, 2024

Madison, WI

Moria (Mackert) Krueger died at home on April 25, 2024 at age 80. The first woman judge in Dane County, a founding member of the National Association of Women Judges, an original author of Wisconsin’s Juvenile Code, and grandmother to five, Moria devoted her professional life to fairness and justice for all, and her personal life to the care and love of her family and friends, crossword puzzles, sunflower seeds, and lapdog Bijou. 

 She was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin on March 14, 1944 never having met her father, a lieutenant commander in the Navy who died in the Pacific Theater just three months after her birth. With a lifelong love of literature and drama, Moria found refuge in high school theater productions, Brideshead Revisited, and Little LuLu. She received her undergraduate degree from U.C. Berkeley before traveling and teaching English in pre-revolutionary Iran with her sister for the better part of a year.

 Moria graduated Order of the Coif from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1970 and was a member of the Law Review. At law school she met her husband of five decades, Edward, who she always said had first impressed her with his red Mustang convertible. Edward and she bonded over film and coming from families who ran movie theaters, and together protested the Vietnam War. Moria taught at the law school for a time and helped to establish a local organization dedicated to runaway youth, which later became Briarpatch. She and Edward launched a private criminal defense practice only briefly before she decided to run for judge.

 In 1977, Moria was elected the first female judge in Dane County, becoming the only female trial judge in Wisconsin at the time, as the result of the state’s first successful recall election. Moria’s candidacy challenged prevailing gender stereotypes and drew national attention. She appreciated that she could help forge a path for women in the legal profession, as well as the interest she garnered, but Moria’s focus was always on her work and making a difference.

 As a judge, Moria was a fierce advocate for the legal rights of children and was an original author of Wisconsin’s Juvenile Code, which ensured minors had a strong advocate when facing the legal system. She helped found the National Association of Women Judges, had sat on the board of the Madison YWCA, and served in more volunteer capacities than her family can recall. She was a lifelong critic of the justice system’s inequalities and biases. Colleagues often referred to her as “the conscience of the courthouse.” Even while serving on the bench, Moria demonstrated against the Second Iraq War. 

 After 30 years as a judge, Moria retired in 2007 with a raucous sendoff by colleagues, family, and those she loved. She enjoyed her kids taking the podium alongside remarks by the Governor and a proclamation by the Mayor. In retirement she worked as a reserve judge, was deeply involved with the United Nations Association of Dane County, was long active in the Madison Literary Club, and for years volunteered at Meriter Hospital, helping families whose loved ones were receiving treatment.

 Moria delighted in her three children, son Brandon (Stacey) and twins Phoebe (Danny) and Sebastian (Hilary), and five grandchildren, Penelope, Milo, Callian, Niall, and Sabrina. In addition to her immediate family, she is survived by her brother Cass (Susan), and three nephews, Ross (Kiri), Noah (Holly), and Micah (Steffi). Her beloved sister Penni died in Moria’s arms in 1980, and her nephew Rob died in 2005.

 Moria was a playful person in all aspects of her life, was a voracious reader, a lover of the turn of phrase and crossword puzzles, and a vigilant grammarian. Her husband Edward has long remarked that she was the most interesting person he will ever know. Her children know her feeling was mutual.

 Her family will arrange a private memorial service to come this summer. Moria hoped those wishing to honor her memory would donate to the Wisconsin Equal Justice fund at wejf.org.

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