2012-09-06 / Front Page

After retiring at 85, voter registrar has plans to go deep-sea fishing

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Recently retired, Wilkes County Voter Registrar Gladys Reese spent 30 years making sure that every qualified voter got to cast a vote. Recently retired, Wilkes County Voter Registrar Gladys Reese spent 30 years making sure that every qualified voter got to cast a vote. At the age of 85, a freshly retired Gladys Reese has finally gone fishing after serving for nearly 30 years as the Wilkes County Voter Registrar.

“I’m fishing in Georgia right now,” she said, “but as soon hurricane season is over, I’m going back out deep-sea fishing. In the Bahamas a few years ago I got a 43-pound black grouper and big tuna, and I hope I can beat that now that I have some time.”

When Reese became Voter Registrar in 1983, she said, “we were still using paper ballots and now we’re mostly computerized. Things have changed a lot in that time. I’ll be 86 in December, but nobody believes it.”

Reese says she leaves the registrar’s office in good hands, as her daughter, deputy registrar Debbie Anderson, has been appointed to fill her role. “I taught Debbie a lot, but a lot she’s learned herself over the 15 years she’s served. She’s very capable and very knowledgeable. ”

Renovations of the Wilkes County Courthouse forced a final challenge for the retiring registrar, requiring the movement of the entire Voter Registrar office from the third floor of the courthouse to the bottom floor this summer. “It was hard, but I didn’t do much of the heavy lifting,” she said. “Things were a mess for a while, though.”

This year’s redistricting also laid a burden on the registrar in her last months on the jobs. New address cards with the redistricting information went out to every registered voter in Wilkes County, and many of these cards bounced back because the people to whom they’re addressed don’t live at that address anymore, she said. As Voter Registrar, she had to check out each returned precinct card to confirm each voter’s correct address so they could vote in the right precinct.

Judge Roger Dunaway appointed Deputy Registrar Debbie Anderson to fill the Chief Registrar job, and Hilda Wright to fill Henry Anderson’s assistant registrar job until the Wilkes Grand Jury meets in February 2013. “The Grand Jury can either accept Judge Dunaway’s appointments, or they can submit four names to serve until June 30,” Debbie Anderson said. “Then they need to select 10 names for him to select five people to serve after July 1, and he will appoint one of those to be Chief Registrar.”

Friends and co-workers in the Wilkes County Courthouse surprised Reese last week with a retirement party Tuesday afternoon. “We almost couldn’t get her to go in there to her own party,” Anderson said. “I finally got her to go in there so we could have her party.”

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