A few weeks ago, a graduate of Polk County drug court waited outside of Molly E. GaleWyrick’s Circuit Court chambers.
The woman — the victim of childhood sexual abuse and drug addiction who had fallen down a rabbit hole of drugs in adulthood — was clean, employed and had her kids back. She wanted GaleWyrick’s attention for something triumphantly normal: to coach intramural sports.
“For someone to go from this horrific background to coaching T-ball, that’s not just rehabilitation, that’s redemption,” GaleWyrick said.
GaleWyrick and a few legal peers started the county’s first drug court eight years ago, and the judge of 13 years counts it as her crowning achievement in that two-court branch.
No wonder: It’s fundamentally about giving people back their own lives, and giving back is what GaleWyrick has always wanted to do.
One of 10 children growing up to a civil engineer and a nurse in Spokane, Wash., GaleWyrick recounted a youth “privileged in love” and enthusiasm. She was pre-med in classes at Montana’s Carroll College but a subpar physics grade derailed a path toward health care. A nun’s emergency surgery at her high school alma mater led her to temporarily teaching, another possible career, but that experience and additional graduate school work in Colorado still left years of matriculation.
By that time she was in Wisconsin with her physician husband, Ken, their two children, Sarah and Seth, and a niece, Molly, that the couple also raised. GaleWyrick said she followed instincts to pick fights as “great intellectual exercises” in attaining a law degree from Hamline University in Minnesota.
“Even though the first way I thought I’d make a difference, which was medicine, did not pan out, I found my way to something that matters,” she said. “I do feel like I’ve been given the world. You try to make something of it.”
These days, GaleWyrick’s professional life intermingles with her social life, as she holds regular legal community gatherings at her home. She pays close attention to inviting female court personnel and attorneys in the rural area, said New Richmond attorney Jim Remington.
“She goes out of her way to be supportive of young women and that makes her a role model for women in northwestern Wisconsin,” he said.
Those gatherings at that beloved home will be coming to a close in the near future, as GaleWyrick has a loose timeline to sell the home, retire and move to the Flathead Lake area of western Montana.