Valdosta Daily Times

December 23, 2012

Sara Crow retires

Superior Court Clerk looks forward to leisure, travel

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — A commemorative quilt lay spread on the conference table in the office of the Lowndes County Superior Court Clerk Tuesday, decorated with transfers of photographs taken throughout the past 50 years.

The quilt was a Christmas gift to Superior Court Clerk Sara Crow from her staff, a memento of her five decades of service to Lowndes County. Crow will officially retire from her position Dec. 31, to begin a life at home and on the road.

Crow never had the chance to “be a housewife,” she said, since she was already working as a clerk when she got married, and retired life will give her the chance to stay at home and live a life of ease.

Crow also enjoys travel, having visited eight different countries including Ireland and Scotland twice, she said. She took a Caribbean cruise in February, and plans to make a trip to Alaska in July.

“I never felt like I could take a month away,” Crow said about her career, which began when she started working for the office in September 1961. The following year, she moved into the newly built annex behind the Lowndes County Courthouse.

It seems fitting that the retirement of Crow, an institution in the Lowndes County judicial system, will coincide with the demolition of the annex, where many of the papers Crow has filed are stored; she and the building have shared nearly the same career.

“The annex has been my home for 50 years,” Crow said. “I realize they’ve been wanting to remove it for some time to restore the original courthouse, but I’m glad I won’t be here at my desk watching the jackhammers break it up.”

Crow remembers the courthouse before the annex was built, and said she has “very fond memories” and that she is glad the county “plans to carry it back to its original appearance.”

Crow began her career as a payroll clerk for the Modern Homes Construction Company, a low-cost shell home company through which customers could purchase the basic structure and then add upon it to customize it — the past equivalent of the modern mobile home industry, she said.

She took her government job because times were hard and serving for the county paid $5 more per week, she said. Crow was then 22, and she is one of three superior court clerks to serve Lowndes County since 1933, with T.B. Converse, who served from 1933-64, and Louise Dickinson, who served from 1964-83, as her predecessors.

Throughout her career, “it has been a pleasure working with the judges and attorneys,” she said, and she never met a challenging client whose issues could not be resolved.

“No matter how aggravated they were, by the time they left, they were satisfied,” Crow said about her clients.

The county has seen significant changes since the beginning of her career, when most of the Valdosta and South Georgia area was rural farmland. As population increased, technology changed to allow for more efficient recording methods, and Crow had to adapt. Her staff increased from three employees to 18.

“We live in a fast world today,” Crow said. “It used to be, we had time to stop and visit with friends and family; now you have to make time.”

Last year, when the Valdosta Bar Association surprised her with a 50th anniversary reception for her distinguished service, Crow expressed no plans to retire, but by her birthday the following April, she changed her tune.

“I had this thought: my qualifying date was coming up in May, and I asked myself, ‘Do I really want to do this four years from now?’” Crow said.

Clerk-elect Beth Greene will take Crow’s place with 20 years of experience, and Crow is confident she can do the job well.

“You have to be a people-person because you get all kinds of customers coming in and needing documents,” Crow said. “There are a lot of responsibilities. Not only do you have to be a management person, you have administrative duties as well. Working with the court, the judges and the attorneys can be overwhelming.”

Her career has “been wonderful,” Crow said, and she has no regrets. While Dec. 31 will mark the date of her official retirement, she will remain available to her staff until the records are safely moved from the annex.