CATEGORY: Lee County
COUNTY OFFICIALS BID FAREWELL
By Philip Moulden
Mary Faye Gwin and Charles Dillard rummaged through files and papers Friday, mixing nostalgia with anticipation as they spent their final day in their offices.
Gwin, the Lee County circuit clerk, and Dillard, county tax collector, officially resigned two days early Sunday, a technical move to speed retirement payments. Both had declined re-election bids after single terms.
“I’m just enjoying my last day,” said Gwin, who worked for many years as a court reporter before winning the clerk’s office in 1991.
“I’m trying to think of some things I can do to help Joyce (Circuit Clerk-elect Joyce Loftin). I’m just thrilled she will take over,” Gwin said of her final actions. “I’m trying to do as much as I can to make it a smooth transition.”
Loftin has worked as a deputy clerk in the office for the past eight years.
The rest of the day was spent saying farewells to county workers in the Justice Center, although Gwin expects to drop by often. In fact, she said she will return Tuesday to observe the swearing-in ceremonies for county officials.
The session is set for 9:30 a.m. in the large courtroom on the second floor of the Justice Center.
“I thought I might tear up, but I haven’t done that (today),” Gwin said. “I’ve already done that … when they gave me the farewell reception (earlier this month).
“But I will miss my girls (employees). I call them my girls because they’re just like daughters to me.”
Asked what her first move will be after leaving office, Gwin replied “I’m going to clean out my closets.”
Gwin, a painter in her spare time, said she will concentrate on completing projects she has been working on for years. That includes portraits of grandchildren and completing some figurines.
But primarily, she will just spend time with family and friends, she said.
“I’m going to enjoy it, I really am,” she said of retirement.
“It’s sort of a sad time in a way,” observed Dillard. “I’ll not only miss the employees, but the many people that you get to meet in this office, which is almost everybody.
“Well, you know when you’ve been working at a place 12 years you’re going to miss it,” said Dillard, who served in the tax collector’s office eight years before running and winning the post. “The people here are just like family.”
Though he’s officially out as of Sunday, Dillard said he won’t be totally absent from the office, at least for a few weeks. His office must still reconcile its December accounts, an action for which he will remain responsible.
“I feel real blessed. I guess you could say for an old country boy like me, who grew up poor, to be able to be elected to a county office is quite an honor. It’s not easy to get elected to a county office.
“But I’m looking very much toward my retirement,” he said, although he said he has nothing special planned. “Mostly, just take some time with my grandchildren. And catch up on a little bit of seeing family members I haven’t seen in a long time.”
District 4 Supervisor Mike Malone will also not return to office after an abbreviated term. Malone was appointed to the post last May after the death of his father, Supervisor Dennis Malone, then failed in his bid to gain the Democratic nomination for the seat in August’s primaries.
Malone will officially remain in office until Tuesday. He could not be reached for comment.