SPRINGFIELD — Elizabeth Hurley has been pushed from her preferred place in the background into a glaring spotlight.
The Effingham County clerk of Superior Court has been feted numerous times in recent days. She will soon retire after holding the post for 36 years.
“It’s been special,” she said. “I had a retirement party (Thursday) that I didn’t know anything about. They really pulled one over on me.
“All my judges were there — the Superior, State and Juvenile Court judges — and court people that we work with every day from the Sheriff’s Office, jailers and my staff. It was real nice.”
Hursey, who served as an assistant in the clerk’s office for eight years before taking over for Louise Newkirk, has received plaques in recognition of her service from Sheriff’s Jimmy McDuffie, Effingham County Magistrate Court and the Effingham County Board of Commissioners.
“It was very nice to receive the recognition,” Hursey said. “I am a very quiet person and I don’t usually put myself out there much but I do the job. It required a lot of my time and I’m happy to report that I’m looking forward to retirement because I won’t have any schedules other than the ones I want.”
As clerk of court, Hursey’s schedule has always been determined by up to seven judges and court dockets.
“Court is most definitely not just 9 to 5,” she said.
Hursey’s final months in office have been particularly hectic because of COVID-19. Social distancing requirements are creating a backlog of cases.
“We have been using Zoom for our jail cases but the Department of Corrections is not moving any inmates in and out,” she said. “We have not had any jury trials. The Supreme Court has said, ‘No go.’
“They just are not moving prisoners.”
The use of Zoom keeps arraignments moving but it isn’t enough to keep pace with the need for court activity.”
Hursey’s department features eight employees. It had only two when she joined Newkirk more than four decades ago.
Hursey’s retirement will become official July 30 but she has agreed to stay on until Aug. 31 to help with the transition to her successor. Jason Bragg and Walt Lawson are involved in an Aug. 11 runoff for the job.
“We also have an audit coming up and things going on that make me need to hang around just a little while,” Hursey said.
After her clerk duties are over, Hursey plans to spend the bulk of her time at home. She enjoys working in her yard but intends to rest a spell before reaching for her spade.
“I also have three grandchildren,” she said. “I hope to get to attend some of their programs at school. I haven’t been able to do that because they live in Bryan County and that makes it kind of hard.”
Hursey has maintained her composure during her career countdown but her emotions almost got the best of her Thursday.
“Seeing all my friends from all these years in one room,” she said as her voiced trailed off. “Every time I turned my head I would see somebody else. It’s special that they showed up and took time from their busy day to come.
“It is emotional and I try to keep everything intact.”