Lafayette County circuit clerk’s 24-year run nears end

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – After six terms in the office, Lafayette County Circuit Clerk Mary Alice Busby will retire at year’s end.
“It’s long hours with this job, and I decided I wanted to spend some time with my seven grandchildren and do some things I’d like to do for a while,” she said.
Busby had been at First National Bank for nearly a quarter-century when she first ran for office in 1987, but the circuit clerk position paid more – an important consideration for Mary Alice and Jarvis Busby, whose three kids were all attending Ole Miss at the time. These days, she’d rather have more leisure time for family and travel – not that she’d want to live anywhere other than Oxford.
“We’re such a friendly town, and we’re so blessed to have the university here. You kind of know everybody, and all my family’s here,” she said. (That family includes her brother, Mike Foster, who will retire as county superintendent of education on Dec. 31.)
Except for the occasional traumatic case, Busby said, being in court has been one of the highlights of her job – especially the attorneys and judges with whom she works. SheStephanie Rebman 7/16/11 optional trimShe laughs about the pinch now-retired Judge Kenneth Coleman got into with his widespread friendliness.
“(Circuit Clerk) Deborah Dunn was here from Calhoun County, and she walks in and he says, ‘There’s my favorite circuit clerk!’” Busby said. “I walked in right behind her, and he said, ‘And there’s my other very favorite circuit clerk!’”
She recalled her very first day on the job, when the senior judge tried to balance running a court with her on-the-job training.
“I really didn’t know anything,” Busby said, laughing again. “Judge (William) Lamb has a habit of doing like this (wiping face vigorously) when he gets upset, and I’ve always said by the end of that day, he didn’t have any hide left on his face.”
Elections are one thing Busby won’t miss.
“I have a knot in my stomach the whole time we have elections, because I want everything to run smoothly,” she said. “It’s a very busy, busy time, and our court terms always fall just before elections.”
While Busby was flattered to have a legislative resolution honoring her career, she said what means more is the trust of her fellow Lafayette Countians.
Since her first race, “I’ve only had an opponent one other time in six terms,” she said. “I’m very humbled at how good the people have been to me throughout these years. They have supported me; they have been my friends.”
errol.castens@journalinc.com