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Koss & Putka

Cowlitz District Court judges David Koss (left) and Ed Putka pose for cameras last year when they announced they were retiring from the bench. 

Former Cowlitz County District Court Judge David Koss, who retired in January after 25 years on the bench, died suddenly in Longview on Saturday at the age of 65.

He had gone for a jog at Lake Sacajawea and never came home, prompting his wife, Sarah Koss, to search for him. She found him in his vehicle, unconscious and unresponsive, parked at the corner of Kessler Boulevard and Hemlock Street (near the Martin Dock playground). Medics were called but Koss was declared dead at 2:25 p.m., Cowlitz County Coroner Tim Davidson said Sunday.

There was no sign of foul play, but the coroner’s office will consult Koss’ family and doctor before making an official cause of death, Davidson said.

Koss’ death stunned the local legal community, which extolled him for his knowledge of the law and history and his passion for fairness and justice.

“His death was an absolute shock to me,” former District Court Judge Ed Putka said Sunday afternoon.

Putka served alongside Koss on District Court and both retired together two months ago after declining not to seek re-election in November.

“He was an absolute scholar of the law and chose to be where he was, dealing with people on an everyday basis. He was fair and compassionate and was really the most you could expect out of a judge,” Putka added. “He took his role very seriously as a guardian of the justice system.”

He remembered Koss as a voracious reader.” I would say, ‘I got this book or that I had read this book,’ and he’d say, ‘Oh yeah, I read that one.”

Koss is survived by his wife, Sarah Koss, and his son, Jeff, who recently moved to Austin, Texas.

This story will be updated as further information becomes available.

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Contact City Editor Andre Stepankowsky at 360-577-2520.

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