Linda Joesbury counted down the days until her Aug. 1 retirement -- for the second time.
The director of Columbia County Family and Children Services was slated to retire on the same day last year.
"I just got excited," Joesbury said. "My husband and I cooked up this big trip in September. We were going up north and just stay for a couple of weeks. We were looking at maps and going to the library. I was so excited."
But that trip never happened.
The Employees' Retirement System of Georgia sent Joesbury a letter in March 2006 informing her that she had fulfilled the 34 years of state employment necessary to retire a few months later.
But less than a month before her supposed last day of work, Joesbury said she got a call from a retirement department representative. The caller said a mistake had been made and Joesbury would have to work another year to be eligible for retirement.
"I was just so shocked," said Joesbury, who admitted she didn't feel any better when she learned the person who made the mistake had been fired.
Joesbury said she called the retirement department head and complained about all the plans she'd have to cancel.
The stunned Joesbury said she walked out of her office and told a coworker that she simply wouldn't be retiring.
"I was looking around and I know I must have looked like I had been hit by a truck, because that's pretty much how I felt," she said. "I said to them, 'They have called me a few minutes ago and told me I can't retire. I've got another year.'
"They all started cheering. It really made me feel good. So that really perked up my spirits. I thought, 'Well gosh, if they can stand me for another year, I can stand them.' They were all coming in my door hugging me and stuff. It was quite a compliment."
During her 34 years as a state employee, Joesbury worked as a teacher, then with DFCS offices in Laurens, Elbert, Rockdale and McDuffie counties. She's been director of the Columbia County office for 13 years.
Pam Tucker, director of the county's Emergency Services Division and Joesbury's liaison with the county government, remembers how traumatic the news was for Joesbury last year. Joesbury's 2007 plans to retire were listed in the county newsletter that is sent out in water bills. Tucker had a going-away gift to present to Joesbury, but stashed it away after hearing Joesbury had another year.
"Linda has been one of the most dedicated people I've ever known in regard to helping families with problems and finding excellent foster homes for children," Tucker said. "She has been a joy to work with. She's always cooperative in working with the county. She will be truly missed."
A year later and now actually retiring, Joesbury said she can laugh about the experience. She doesn't regret spending another year doing a job she loves, she said.
"I like what I do. I love Columbia County. I'm fine. Another year is just fine. I've had a lot of strange feelings about leaving. Maybe it just wasn't time for me to go. Now I'm ready."
Joesbury said she and her husband, who retired in March, are planning the trip they never took last fall to the Great Lakes and possibly Niagara Falls.
She's also hoping to conduct social work on a part-time basis.
Joesbury was honored at a recent county commission meeting and her colleagues said goodbye at a July 25 retirement party at Eubank Blanchard Community Center in Appling.
Joesbury said she'll miss the job. But since her department handled several big cases last year and the possibility of her being called to testify in court, Joesbury knows she won't have to cut herself off right away.
"It won't get it out of my blood for a while. I know it won't," Joesbury said. "I've loved doing what I have done. ... If you were put on this earth for something, for a certain thing, I really believe that this is where I was supposed to be, because I have really loved it. It is in my bones."
Joesbury packed up her office slowly and separated herself from the staff she's directed for more than a decade.
"I tell them that they are my babies and I will worry about them forever," she said. "So, I've got my fingers crossed that we'll get a really good director in here and somebody that will love them like I do."
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