Wilson retires after 48 years of service to county

Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Carroll County Circuit Clerk Ramona Wilson shares a hug with Justice of the Peace Matt Phillips at a Dec. 21 quorum court meeting after Phillips presented Wilson with a plaque in appreciation of her 48 years working for the people of Carroll County.
Robert Cox / Carroll County News

Some time ago, an upset Carroll County resident walked into the circuit clerk’s office and, after speaking with the clerk, demanded to know, “Who is your boss?”

The clerk replied simply, “You are.”

Ramona Wilson, who’ll be 71 next month, likes to tell that story. After 48 years serving the people of Carroll County — including the past 22 as circuit clerk, it’s still one of her favorites.

“They just about fell over backwards,” Wilson said Tuesday, “because that’s the truth. They vote me in or they vote me out, and so that’s the only one I have to answer to. A county judge is not my boss; the county clerk is not my boss. I am the boss of my own office. So, when I told them they were my boss, that really got them.”

Wilson, who began working as a deputy clerk for Eileen Harvey on Dec. 2, 1972, is calling it quits, retiring after 11 terms as circuit clerk.

“Maybe you should say I’ve served 10 1/2 or something like that, because this last time it was a four-year term,” Wilson said. “Where was that 20 years ago? I wouldn’t have had to campaign every two years.”

The Carroll County Quorum Court voted Monday, Dec. 21, to appoint deputy clerk Marilyn Ferrier to fill out the remaining two years of Wilson’s term

“[Ferrier] came to work for me in 2014,” said Wilson, who introduced Ferrier to the quorum court during Monday’s meeting. “She’s been my chief deputy for the last three or four years and does a fine, fine job.

“I know that Carroll County will be in good, good hands. I think she’s more than capable of carrying on the job.”

The quorum court voted unanimously to approve Ferrier’s appointment, then presented Wilson with a plaque honoring her for her five decades of service.

“Ms. Ramona, you have been in public service my entire life,” said District 6 Justice of the Peace Craig Hicks, who spoke briefly before District 5 JP Matt Phillips made the presentation. “There’s nothing I could say that would give any credit to what you’ve done for Carroll County. You are a true public servant.”

After accepting the plaque, Wilson addressed the court once more.

“This coming Monday [Dec. 28] will be my 50th wedding anniversary,” said Wilson, who has two children, Sam Wilson and Becky Tharp, with her husband, Butch, along with one grandson, “so I have worked for the county almost as long as I’ve been married. It has been a huge, huge part of my life. I felt like that I was put there for a purpose and I hope that I have adequately fulfilled that purpose.”

Wilson shared a few stories from her time in office, then thanked Carroll County for the trust placed in her.

“I have to thank all the voters for all these years that believed in me and trusted me and kept voting me in,” Wilson said, becoming emotional. “It’s very bittersweet. I’m going to miss it terribly.”

Wilson got her start in the clerk’s office after a string of other jobs, including a stint with the Green Forest School District, a pajama factory, a shirt factory and a few months working for Carroll Electric Cooperative, a position cut short when Butch was also hired by the electric company.

She said a recommendation from a supervisor helped her find her calling.

“Sometimes, it’s who you know,” Wilson said.

Harvey, Wilson explained, knew her supervisor at Carroll Electric and had said she needed another deputy clerk in her office.

“I left there on Friday and went to work for her on Monday,” Wilson said.

And she never looked back, working first for Harvey and then for Jackie Bunch before getting elected to the office herself in 1998.

“I just liked it from the very beginning,” Wilson said. “Waiting on the public as they come in and need to record things or research stuff — and I still love to go back to the old books and look at the indexes and the flowery handwriting that they used. My records go back to 1871.”

With the circuit clerk’s office firmly in her rearview, Wilson said she plans to turn her attention to other projects, including her recent efforts in helping to provide face coverings for hospitals, schools, doctor’s offices and many other places, including the courthouse, since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“I’ve made 900 and something so far,” Wilson said. “And that’s with working full time. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make more, but I hope it doesn’t go on and on. Maybe I won’t have the need to do that someday, but I also love to quilt and crochet.”

Even after so many years as a public servant, Wilson said her passion for the job is what kept her going.

“An absolute love of the type of work and the people,” Wilson said. “It has been my heart’s mission to be a public servant, in the truest sense of the word. I have been here to provide a service for the public.”

After all, they’ve been her boss for nearly 50 years.

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