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Scott County mourns loss of recorder of deeds
BENTON, Mo. -- Scott County Recorder Tom Dirnberger didn't mind coming into the office on a Saturday to issue a marriage license to newlyweds who had forgotten they needed one for their big day.
During the holidays, he'd stay in the office so his staff could go enjoy Christmas lunch with the other county workers. Keeping the doors open was always a point of pride for Dirnberger.
"He was a wonderful man," said deputy recorder Tara Mason. "He was not one for praise, but he was big-hearted. He helped out as many people as he could."
Scott County on Friday was mourning the loss of Dirnberger, who died Thursday at age 53 from melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Dirnberger, a Democrat, took office in 1995 and was re-elected four times, most recently last year.
Those who knew Dirnberger described him as a consummate professional and statewide leader among those who worked in the relative obscurity of county recorders.
Mason said Dirnberger literally brought the Scott County recorder of deeds office into the future, implementing its first computer system to search for deeds online and later introducing electronic filing.
"When he came into office, we weren't even on computers yet," Mason said. "He has been very, very instrumental in starting a lot of things with the recorder's office."
Boone County, Mo., Recorder Bettie Johnson was a friend of Dirnberger's, first meeting him through association meetings. She called Dirnberger a natural leader with the ability to cultivate consensus among his peers.
"It's a loss for Scott County, but it's a huge loss to the recorder's association in this state," Johnson said. "Tom worked tirelessly to make it better, not just in Scott County, but for recorders across Missouri."
Scott County Clerk Rita Milam said Gov. Jay Nixon will appoint an interim recorder and that candidates can run during the general election next year to fill out the remainder of Dirnberger's four-year term.
Milam said Dirnberger's shoes will be hard to fill.
"He was just a wonderful asset to the county and I really enjoyed not just being an elected official with him, but also a friend," Milam said. "Words can't explain it, how such a young, hardworking man is gone so early. It's definitely a loss."
Dirnberger was survived by a wife and two children.
131 S Winchester, Benton, MO