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Bobbi Alpers, a jurist who became the first female chief judge of a judicial district in Iowa state history, died Thursday, December 24, 2020, of complications of Alzheimer’s at her home in rural Jackson County.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, there will be neither a visitation nor memorial service. A private burial will take place and in 2021 a celebration of Bobbi’s time on earth will be announced.

Bobbi’s family would like to acknowledge the extraordinary assistance and loving care offered by Hospice of Jackson County in her final days.

She was born September 10, 1951, in Vinton, Iowa, to Harold & Dorothy Alpers. Even as a child, she exhibited a nurturing nature and extraordinary leadership skills, playing the role of schoolteacher to a classroom of two, her younger sister and brother.

Bobbi became expert at adapting to a continually shifting landscape, as her father transferred often for his job. Consequently, she attended schools in Vinton, Manchester, Fort Dodge, Cresco and, finally, Maquoketa, where she graduated with the Class of 1969.

Four years later, she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Dubuque with a double major in English & French, with a minor in history. In 2013, she was named an Alumna of Distinction at the university.

Bobbi taught middle school English in Forest City for a year before returning to school at the University of Iowa, where she earned a Master’s Degree in English. She was offered a position as a high school English teacher in the Pleasant Valley School District, where she stayed until 1980, when a new career beckoned.

In 1983, she graduated from the University of Iowa Law School, and was immediately offered a position as a judicial law clerk in the 7th Judicial District in Davenport, Iowa.

Eventually, she worked as an assistant county attorney, before opening her own practice. She was chosen to be a judicial magistrate in Scott County and in 1990 was chosen by the governor to be a district court judge. At the time, she was the only female judge in the five-county 7th Judicial District.

In 2007, the Iowa Supreme Court chose her to be the chief judge of the district, the first female to become a chief judge of a district in the century-and-a-half of Iowa’s legal system. She was a terrific, empathetic, compassionate judge and was unsurpassed as a kind, thoughtful human being. Clark Kauffman, of the Iowa Capital Dispatch, wrote: “No matter where I saw her — at the courthouse or elsewhere — Bobbi was always the most engaged, energetic and smartest person in the room.”

She married Kurt Ullrich in 1983. He survives.

She also is survived by her sister, Peggy, of Oak Lawn, IL, and brother Mikel, of Wood Dale, IL. Additional survivors include a niece and two nephews.

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