MT. PLEASANT — After 55 years in law, Gary Wiegel is passing the baton to Paul Miller.
Wiegel, who has a storied history as an attorney in Southeast Iowa, moved to Mt. Pleasant in 1965 and has been practicing law in the area ever since.
The 83-year-old retiring lawyer, a west Illinois native, grew up on a farm but said he wasn’t ready for farm life after returning home from the Army in the mid-1960s. He decided instead to pursue law school.
“I had a good friend who was a lawyer. I think he was kind of instrumental in me getting into law,” Wiegel said.
In addition to running his own law firm, Wiegel served as the Henry County attorney for five terms from 1969 to 1979.
“I had murder cases, there was a car-theft ring going on here. Someone set a bomb off right in the alley here,” Wiegel said.
As county attorney, Wiegel said he was no stranger to threats on his life. At one point, he and his family had to move three times over the course of a few months due to threats and had an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations officer placed with the family for protection.
Despite some of the more turbulent moments, Wiegel looks back on career with a lot of fondness.
“We had some really good times. It’s been a lot of fun,” he said.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the job for Wiegel was participating in jury trials. Although he doesn’t have an exact count, Wiegel estimates he has been part of more than 40 jury trials.
“My favorite part of practicing law is the people. I really enjoyed doing jury trials — I had many as the county attorney, some as a defense attorney,” he said.
As he looks toward retirement, Wiegel said he knows he’s leaving the practice in capable hands.
“Paul is a family man, he’s very pleasant and intelligent — the three things I look for,” Wiegel said.
Miller, who has been in law himself for 15 years, runs a law office with his father in Fairfield. When he saw an opportunity to work with Wiegel and expand to Mt. Pleasant, he said he was excited to jump in.
“I’ve wanted to expand my clientele and outreach … Gary has been a great asset,” Miller said of his transition to Mt. Pleasant.
Moving forward, Miller said he hopes to continue to provide clients with “timely and prompt service.” Like Wiegel, Miller said he most enjoys working with people and is looking forward to interacting with and meeting a new group of Southeast Iowans in Mt. Pleasant.
“It’s always fun to meet new people. You never know what new person you’re going to meet or what new story you’re going to hear,” he said.