DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — She is the longest serving female judge in Illinois and the longest serving judge in the state. Monday, Rita Garman said she is set to retire.

The Supreme Court justice has been serving as a judge in the state for nearly five decades at every level of the state’s court system. She grew up in Oswego, graduated as a lawyer in 1968 and was first appointed as associate judge in 1974.

A highlight of my career came on Christmas Eve in 1974. My husband Gill and I were driving with our two-year-old daughter to Joliet, Illinois when an alert went out on WGN Radio– a woman had been named judge in downstate Illinois. This was the moment when I learned I had been appointed as associate judge–the first woman judge in my circuit. It was a newsworthy event 48 years ago, and a life-changing event for all of us. I was one of eight women judges in the state of Illinois. In 2022, not only am I the longest serving woman judge in Illinois, but also the longest serving judge in the state.

Justice Rita B. Garman

Garman will be stepping down effective July 7.