New Canaan Daily Voice

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New Canaan Probate Court Closes for Business

Karen Smith offered a melancholy shrug and a look of sadness as she scanned her desk on Tuesday afternoon.

The desk and other areas of the New Canaan Probate Court were littered with nearly full boxes and bags. Some with files destined for the back of a moving van, others with old papers and stationary destined for a Dumpster.

“It’s kind of bizarre,” said Smith, the clerk of the probate court, in between taking a couple of phone calls. Among the last phone calls she’d take in the office before continuing her work Wednesday in Darien.

It was all part of the final day of probate court in New Canaan Town Hall. Come Wednesday, New Canaan residents seeking information on settling estates or merely looking for a passport application will have to travel to the combined Probate Court in Darien. Consolidations will force the closure of many courts statewide, including New Canaan’s court, located in a converted vault in the rear of Town Hall. It is unclear who will occupy the

Smith, who lives in Darien, said she will miss her workplace of eight years. She and three others will continue their work in the probate court system in Darien, though Smith will go on as an assistant clerk for Michael Murray. “I’m sad. I met a lot of nice people here,” Smith said. “I’m going to miss being here.”

The closure marks the last day of work for retiring Probate Judge Russell Kimes . The longtime town resident and attorney for 30 years opted not to run for the combined judge position last November.

Tuesday was also the swan song for Liz Gesler, who worked as an assistant clerk for 16 years, the last three as a part-time helper in semi-retirement. After Tuesday, Gesler says there’s no more for her to do.

“I’m going to put my feet up, have lunch with some friends and life starts anew,” she said.