Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, himself a former prosecutor, is ordering county flags lowered to half staff in honor of Riederer's memory. (Nima Shaffe/KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -
Albert Riederer, a former Jackson County prosecutor and civic leader, has died at age 67.
Riederer died after a battle with cancer. His survivors include wife, Sandra Midkiff, herself a respected Jackson County Circuit judge.
Riederer was a respected and prominent civic leader and elected official. He served three terms as Jackson County prosecutor and was a former Missouri state judge. He came in third in the 2007 race for Kansas City mayor and was discussed as a possible candidate in 2011. He was often tapped to help organize and lead campaign measures including those to expand the Kansas City Zoo.
Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, himself a former prosecutor, is ordering county flags lowered to half staff in honor of Riederer's memory. The county Legislature recently approved renaming two downtown court buildings in honor of Riederer.
Many throughout the Kansas City area mourned Thursday what many called "a huge loss."
"Albert always did the right thing," Calvin Williford, chief of staff to Sanders, said on behalf of the county executive. "He set an example for all prosecutors to follow. Our community has lost a great leader and champion for justice."
Riederer led his own law firm, but retired in recent months due to the cancer that ravaged his body.
Creating and championing an anti-crime and anti-drug program in Jackson County, called COMBAT, will be one of Riederer's lasting legacies. The program focuses on rehabilitating young offenders before they do hard core prison time.
Former Jackson County Executive Katheryn Shields said providing treatment and prevention "really set Kansas City on a course," where police weren't providing the only answers to the drug epidemic. She said Riederer playing a vital role in getting voters to approve the anti-drug tax made an incredible difference.
"That's a great contribution that he made to this community. It's still in effect today. I think it's been renewed twice by the voters and we have incredible creative beneficial programs in Jackson County because of his commitment to this idea," Shields said.
Her successor, Sanders, joined her in lavishing praise on Riederer.
"Today, we lost a truly great human being. Albert dedicated much of his life and career to helping improve the lives of others. His contributions as an elected official, civic leader, and mentor are still felt today," Sanders said in a statement. "As Jackson County prosecutor, he set an example for all other prosecutors to follow. Although he is no longer with us, Albert's spirit will live on, both in the people he touched and in the community that he cared so deeply about."
Riederer served as Jackson County legislator from 1978 to 1980. He was prosecutor from 1981 to 1993 and was succeeded by his protege, Claire McCaskill, who is now U.S. senator for Missouri. He later served as a state appeals court judge from 1997 to 1999.
Alvin Brooks and Mark Funkhouser finished ahead of Riederer in 2007 after some last-minute scathing attacks on Riederer during the campaign. Riederer had been one of the front runners. Funkhouser would go on to win the race over Brooks in the runoff.
McCaskill issued a statement Thursday afternoon.
"Albert was a great boss to me when I was a young assistant prosecutor. Albert pushed me to learn more and take risks," she said. "He was a terrific political mentor, and an even better lifelong friend and supporter. His eyes always twinkled and his brain never stopped -- he was brilliant, and his legions of friends will miss him terribly. My thoughts and prayers are with Sandy, and their two children."
As news spread, tributes poured in Thursday afternoon.
"Albert was a tireless advocate on behalf of the values of the Democratic Party," said Tom Wyrsch, chairman of the Jackson County Democratic Committee. "Our community is a better place because of Albert. He will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his wife, Judge Midkiff."
Mayor Sly James also expressed his condolences.
"Kansas City has lost one of its great citizens with the passing of Judge Al Riederer. It was my privilege to co-chair the stadium renovation campaign with him, where I witnessed his tireless work ethic, commitment to all things Kansas City and contagious spirit," James said in a statement. "He was a friend, a true civic champion, and he will be missed greatly. My thoughts are with Al's family as they mourn this loss."
The current prosecutor, Jean Peters Baker, said Riederer's service would always impact his community.
"Personally and professionally this is a loss. Albert Riederer served as a mentor to me and helped shape the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office. Albert left an indelible imprint on the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office. Albert's legacy encouraged the upmost in ethics, honestly, fair dealing and compassion. Albert was a true leader who faithfully served the citizens of Jackson County for decades. An award was established in his name for the assistant prosecutor who exemplifies those same qualities and high standards that Albert exhibited in his practice of law," according to her statement.
"He is irreplaceable, and to this day, the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office remembers the spirit, honesty and integrity of Albert Riederer and strives to maintain the standards that he left behind. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
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