Margaret Tutt-Adams wants to just ride off into the sunset.
After working 34 years in the Columbia County Juvenile Court, Tutt-Adams retired Friday without fanfare or a retirement celebration.
“It’s just time,” Tutt-Adams said. “To me it’s not retirement. It’s just stepping to the side to open myself up to new opportunities and have a bit more flexibility in my life.”
Tutt-Adams was the chief probation officer and Juvenile Court manager, a position she took more than nine years ago.
“I can honestly say for myself, there will never be another boss like Ms. Margaret (Tutt) Adams,” said colleague Cassandra Middleton.
Tutt-Adams said leaving the people she calls “family,” “partners” and “a team” is tough, but she takes comfort knowing that the court will continue as before.
“This is a good group of people here,” she said. “I’m really going to miss them.”
Tutt-Adams said she always knew she was doing what she was supposed to do, both as a teacher and Juvenile Court probation officer. She taught at North Columbia and Evans Elementary schools and in California before joining the court staff.
“I’m giving back what someone has given to me, trying to make a difference in a child’s life and make an impact in a child’s life in a positive way,” she said.
When Tutt-Adams started as a probation officer in Juvenile Court more than three decades ago, the office was on Davis Road and then part-time Juvenile Court Judge James G. Blanchard held court in the Appling courthouse every four to six weeks.
Now, hundreds of children come before the court and it meets several times a week.
“The kids are younger now in the offenses that they are committing,” she said. “I think kids now are committing the same type of offenses as adults, they are just doing it at a younger age.
“I remember the first time a kid ever had a gun and now they are becoming more frequent.”
In her 34 years, Tutt-Adams was instrumental in starting nearly two dozen court programs to help children make better decisions. Most are active while others are ready to implement if the need arises.
“All our programs that we have here, what we want to do is kind of teach the kids to think before,” she said. “Think before they speak. Think before they act or react. We want to strengthen their decision-making skills and how they resolve conflicts.”
Probation officer Rodney Brown said Tutt-Adams will be missed in her role in the court.
“It’s bittersweet,” agreed Probation Officer William Hickmon.
Tutt-Adams will remain on the Juvenile Court perimeter helping with some of the programs.
“I’ll miss it because I love working with the kids,” she said, though retirement will give her more time to spend with her own grandsons.
“I’m just turning the page,” Tutt-Adams said. “I’m just semi-closing out a chapter to turn the page to new adventures.
“I’m looking at life with a newer expectancy. What’s out there, I have no idea what it is. But I get the feeling that I am about to really have a ball.”