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Longest serving county employee, former sheriff, bids farewell at retirement ceremony

Crosby was with county 48 years

Posted: May 5, 2015 - 11:11pm
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Gloria Crosby's son Tim Brassell (right) and her grandchildren Neely and Tim Brassell visit Crosby one last time at her desk in the probate court office before the start of her retirement reception.   Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Gloria Crosby's son Tim Brassell (right) and her grandchildren Neely and Tim Brassell visit Crosby one last time at her desk in the probate court office before the start of her retirement reception.

Gloria Crosby made a grand exit during a retirement ceremony after almost five decades serving Columbia County.

“I’ve got to get out and enjoy life for a change,” Crosby joked as she greeted well-wishers visiting at her office in Columbia County Probate Court. “(I’m retiring) because I’ll be 70 in October. I figured it’s time to leave.”

Crosby has held many titles during her 48-year tenure as a county employee. She was the first female police officer, the first female sheriff and is the county’s longest-serving employee. She’s been the Probate Traffic Court coordinator since agreeing to work for her longtime friend, former Probate Court Judge Pat Hardaway.

“I’m going to miss her making our work fun,” said Probate Court colleague Kristin Calloway, adding she enjoys Crosby’s wry sense of humor. “She broke the mold.”

Crosby’s friends and family gathered in a meeting room on the top floor of the courthouse in Evans for a ceremony to bid Crosby farewell. They shared smiles, hugs and stories.

“I remember when she came to work in her slip because she forgot to put her skirt on,” said former colleague Leslie Morgan.

Her Probate Court colleagues even donned T-shirts covered with their favorite “Gloria-isms,” her favorite sayings.

“I just want to tell her that Probate Court will never be the same,” Probate Court Judge Alice Padgett said as she hugged Crosby before a gathered crowd.

The Appling native and lifelong county resident began her county service at age 17 when she became a Water Utility clerk.

“I made a dollar an hour,” Crosby said.

She worked at Water Utility for about 14 years before leaving in October 1977 to pursue other ventures. She returned as a sheriff’s office employee in July 1981 as the county’s first female law enforcement officer.

Crosby performed nearly every sheriff’s office job except road patrol deputy. She was a jailer and 911 dispatcher. She was the Criminal Investigations secretary for three years before accepting a position investigating sex crimes and crimes against children.

From there, Crosby went to work directly for then-Sheriff Otis Hensley as his executive assistant. After his death in October 1994, Crosby was named the interim sheriff for about six months until Sheriff Clay Whittle was elected in April 1995.

“She was super,” said former deputy Walker Marshall, who worked with Crosby his entire 30-year career at the sheriff’s office. “She was excellent with the people. She’s going to be missed. They can’t replace her.”

Crosby, a self-described “people person,” said it’s all the relationships she’s built in a half-century that she’ll miss most about retirement.

“I’m going to miss all the people,” Crosby said. I’ve set some real sweet people. ... I’m going to miss them.

“I’ve enjoyed working for the county,” Crosby told the crowd through tears. “I’ve had fun with everybody. I’m going to miss you. I love you.”

Crosby won’t have much time to dwell on the sadness of leaving her longtime friends because she’s got lots of plans.

First on the agenda is helping her sister, Connie Hill, clean out and sell her home.

“But we’re going to the coast,” Crosby said. “Then, we’re going to the casino in Cherokee. We’ve got to go up there.”

And for the woman who loves spending time at the ocean near Beaufort, S.C., fishing and shrimping, Crosby has one last retirement goal.

“Now that I’m (nearly) 70, I’m going to learn how to swim,” she said. “You can always teach an old dog new tricks. I hope I learn a lot of them.”

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