Margaret S. Briles

By on November 4, 2009

Margaret S. Briles, 84, of Fort Myers, Florida, formerly of Bettendorf, Iowa, died Oct. 27, 2009, in Naples, Fla.

Margaret Stevenson was born April 28, 1925, and grew up in Elburn. She graduated from North Central College in Naperville and the University of Chicago School of Law. She arrived in Davenport, Iowa, in 1948 to serve as both an associate and partner in the law firm of Lambach, Christiansen, Stevenson and Goebel. While there, she was also appointed as the referee for the Scott County Juvenile Court. In 1973, she became the Corporation Counsel for the City of Davenport and served in that post until 1977.

In 1977, Iowa Governor Robert Ray appointed Stevenson, now Margaret Briles, to the new judgeship in the Seventh Judicial District, the first woman district court judge in the state of Iowa. Known as “tough but fair,” she served on the bench for many years, assuming senior judge status in 1992.

During her long and distinguished career, Judge Briles had many accomplishments. She held the Martindale-Hubbel rating of valorem, the highest possible rank in legal listings. She is listed in the first and second editions of Who’s Who in American Women, and at one time was voted Woman of the Year for the tri-cities of Moline and Rock Island, Ill., and Davenport, Iowa.

In 1975, she was named an Outstanding Alumni for North Central College. She served on both the Davenport and Bettendorf school boards and many other boards and commissions. An avid supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, she was a former parliamentarian of the Iowa League of Women Voters. In 2005, Judge Briles was honored along with five esteemed women judges from the state of Iowa, as pioneers in the field of law. She had a true love of law and an unwavering faith in the justice system.

Margaret Stevenson married Donald L. Briles in 1953, and they proceeded to have four independent-minded daughters. He preceded her in death on Jan. 17, 1987. She loved classical music and was an accomplished pianist. Her widely varied interests included films and theater, travel, cooking, gardening, history and crossword puzzles. While in private law practice, she became a licensed small passenger airplane pilot.

Margaret is survived by daughters and son-in-laws, Susan and Art, Sarah and Jeff, and Elizabeth; brothers and sister-in-laws, James and Bea, Robert and Virginia; a sister-in-law, Fran; grandchildren, Victoria, Nicholas, Ethan and Luke; a great granddaughter, Rayna; and former son-in-law, Gary and wife, Julie; along with her beloved cousins, nieces and nephews and their families. She will be forever loved and missed.

Margaret was preceded in death by her husband; her parents, Eunice and Donald; a brother, Malcolm; a daughter, Martha; and a son-in-law, Dave.

Memorial services for Margaret S. Briles, 84, of Fort Myers, Fla., formerly of Bettendorf, Iowa, will be held 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009, at Cunnick-Collins Mortuary in Davenport, Iowa. Family will greet friends on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2009, from 4 to 7 p.m at the mortuary.

Memorials may be made to Iowa Public Radio or to North Central College in Naperville.