Freeman honored for public service

Published 12:04 am Saturday, July 17, 2010

WINDSOR — With 30 years as a magistrate, Jo Ann Myers Freeman admitted she never thought retirement would come.

Well, it has.

On Wednesday, court and law enforcement officials gathered to congratulate Freeman on her three decades of service during a retirement party held at the Windsor Community Building.

“I never thought I would retire ya’ll,” she quipped to the crowd. “I thought for the rest of my life I’d walk those halls.”

Freeman has served as a magistrate in Bertie County since March 1980 and has been the lead magistrate for more than 10 years.

Freeman was working as a deputy in her fifth year at the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office when the opportunity arose.

“The Honorable Bill Burgwyn, the district attorney at the time, asked me if I would consider taking the appointment,” she said.

Freeman decided to take the opportunity, feeling that she wouldn’t stay at the sheriff’s office in later years.

“It was a job I could retire at,” she said about the magistrate position. “And I have.”

Chief District Court Judge Jody Blythe appointed Freeman in 1980 to the role of magistrate.

At the retirement gathering, Freeman was presented with gifts, plaques and accolades from those who worked with her; among them were her fellow magistrates, Bertie County Clerk of Court John Tyler, Chief District Court Judge Alfred Kwasikpui and Representative Annie Mobley.

Tyler congratulated Freeman on her retirement and presented her with a plaque on behalf of himself and Superior Court Judge Cy Grant.

“Jo Ann is one of those people that you never worry about,” he said. “She is always on time, where she is supposed to be, doing what she’s supposed to be doing and always being a friend to the people of Bertie.”

Judge Kwasikpui presented Freeman with her certificate of retirement.

“Magistrate Freeman has served as the chief magistrate for Bertie for a number of years and she has done a wonderful job,” he said. “I personally want to express my appreciation to you for a fine manner in which you have worked with all of us. I know there have been occasions where there were emergency situations and you have responded.”

He continued, “We wish you a wonderful retirement; well deserved years of rest and wish you Godspeed.”

Representative Mobley, a retired chief court counselor, said her and Freeman “go way back.”

“On behalf of the North Carolina General Assembly, I want to congratulate you on your retirement,” she said. “I want you to know that we are deeply proud of you’ve done; we applaud you for what you’re going to be doing, because when you serve people it’s not easy to stop and sit there.”

Mobley said she knows Freeman will continue to do something in terms of serving the community.

Freeman responded, thanking her fellow co-workers from the different facets of law enforcement and the court system.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I mean it sincerely because it’s been great working with you,” she said. “We have a good staff at the magistrates’ (office), clerk’s office, sheriff’s department, communications, probation—everybody. We are a very fortunate county to have the workers that we have.”

In a later interview, Freeman said it was those people that surrounded her at work for 30 years that she would miss the most.

“I’m going to miss the people,” she said. “We have an excellent working team here.”

She also noted the astuteness her own team, including Arthur Watford, Lawrence Carter, Willie Davis and Lindora Williams, at the magistrates’ office.

“They were wonderful to work with,” she said. “I have enjoyed these years and I’m glad to have had the experience.”

In her retirement, Freeman has plenty of plans, including traveling and working part-time, possibly in a volunteer job with senior citizens or with the Art Council.

“I want to still do something because my health is good,” she said.

Freeman’s last official day on the job is August 1.