By Rebecca Goodman
Enquirer staff writer
DRY RIDGE - Although Mary Jane Blain never attended law school, she served as a judge for Boone County.
Mrs. Blain was Judge Charles Niblack's legal secretary when he died in 1964. Then Gov. Edward Breathitt appointed her to the position until a special election could be held three months later.
Judge Bruce Ferguson was elected to finish Niblack's term and Mrs. Blain became his secretary.
An employee of Boone County Court for 27 years, Mrs. Blain died Friday of cardiac arrest at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Grant County. The Dry Ridge resident was 83.
She was "admired by everyone that had business in the county," Ferguson said. "She was from a family that had deep roots in Boone County - the Bradys. Just everyone liked that lady. She was so personable. I can't imagine that she ever made an enemy - never."
She was Judge Carroll L. Cropper's secretary from 1950 until 1962, when he left office. She then worked for Niblack.
In those days, county judges were not lawyers, but were administrators, Ferguson said. After state judicial reform in the 1970s, the position became known as judge-executive. "The county judge did everything," and appointed "what we would call a trial commissioner" to handle cases, Ferguson said.
So Mrs. Blain handled administrative aspects of the court.
"She, at the time, was the only lady county judge," in the state, said her daughter, Linda Gritton of Union.
Mrs. Blain graduated from Burlington High School and attended Littleford-Nelson Business College in Cincinnati for two years.
Before going to work for Boone County, she worked at a downtown Cincinnati bank.
She ended her legal career as secretary for attorney William P. McEvoy. Both retired at the same time - in December 1977.
At a retirement luncheon, during which Mrs. Blain was presented a gold watch and a pair of diamond earrings, she said, "I didn't go to law school, but I feel I got a good legal education."
In retirement, she and her husband, Jean Hart Blain, traveled throughout the United States and Europe. They also visited Australia, New Zealand and the Holy Land.
Mrs. Blain's hobbies included bowling, painting, knitting and walking.
She was a member of the Grant County Women's Club, the Grant County Homemakers, the Democratic Party, and former president of the Kentucky Rural Letter Carrier's Auxiliary. She was also a member of the Dry Ridge Baptist Church, where she was a Sunday school teacher, clerk and a member of Dry Ridge Baptist Women.
In addition to her daughter and husband of 29 years, survivors include two sons, Bradford Blain of Lexington and Richard Blain of Florence; another daughter, Margaret Blain of Louisville; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Services have been held. Burial was at Hill Crest Cemetery in Dry Ridge.
Memorials may be made to Dry Ridge Baptist Church Building Fund, 19 Broadway St., Dry Ridge, KY 41035 or Burlington Baptist Church Memorial Fund, 3031 Washington Blvd., Burlington, KY 41005.
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