Hennepin County District Judge Fred Karasov, who has been hospitalized since he went into cardiac arrest two months ago, will retire at the end of the year.

In a note Monday to district court judges and staffers, Chief Hennepin County Judge Ivy Bernhardson announced Karasov's retirement with "great sadness."

"Fred has been a wonderful friend and colleague to enjoy and treasure, a great consigliere on all issues criminal; an enthusiastic cheerleader for others every day of his life; and a ray of sunshine to all," Bernhardson wrote.

"I know we all continue to hold him up in our thoughts and prayers for his continued healing, and of course we are so lucky to be able to continue our support and friendship with him."

Once Karasov's judicial seat has been vacated, Gov. Tim Walz will appoint his successor.

Karasov, 66, has been absent from the bench since his heart stopped Sept. 7 while he was working out at an Orangetheory Fitness club. He has been in and out of the hospital and longer-term rehabilitation facilities since he collapsed. His brother Robert has kept friends and family apprised of his condition through a CaringBridge website.

On Monday, Karasov was at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis. Initially in a coma, he has been working toward recovering the ability to walk and talk, according to the CaringBridge site.

An assistant Hennepin County attorney from 1982 to 2008, Karasov joined the bench in March 2008 when he was appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. As a prosecutor and judge, he was a respected, gregarious and lively colleague and friend to many at the downtown Minneapolis courthouse.

Until his collapse, Karasov was a dedicated fitness enthusiast and world traveler with vacations booked to Croatia this fall and Australia in 2020.

Karasov also was a longtime judge advocate general in the Minnesota Army National Guard. Eleven months after he joined the bench, he went on a seven-month deployment to Iraq with the National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division.