Thursday, April 8, 2010
Ms. Madalynne retires
By SUE WATSON
At nearly 88 years of age and in good health, Madalynne Ash retired from the chancery clerk’s office last week. She has put in 46 years with the county, plus nine years with Fryling Electric before coming to the courthouse.
Madalynne began working with sheriff J.M. “Flick” Ash as a dispatcher and sold car tags, back in the day when the sheriff’s office and tag office were together in the courthouse. After Flick Ash was elected chancery clerk, Madalynne moved over with him to the clerk’s office, where she has spent her remaining professional years working with chancery court. She has served three chancery clerks - Flick Ash, Johnny Taylor Jr. and Chuck Thomas.
Madalynne was born in Potts Camp, the daughter of the late J.S. and Ethyl Simmons. She lost her only daughter and best friend, Lynda McAlexander, last year. She has two sisters living, Louise Randolph and Jean Nichols, and one deceased brother, Joe Simmons. Her mother lived to the ripe old age of 102.
Madalynne is a faithful church member with a stretch of 23 years perfect Sunday School attendance until the death of her daughter caused her to miss a Sunday at First Baptist Church of Potts Camp.
Blessed with good health and unfortunate to have lost her husband 35 years ago to an injury he received in military service, Madalynne has made work her life.
“So, I’ve had a long life by myself,” she said. “I made work my life and I have enjoyed every bit of it.”
She said covering court has been a great learning experience. After retirement she will spend more daylight hours at home doing house-work and keeping her yard and flower beds in tiptop shape. She does her own mowing and flower bed work.
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas said he was less than 2 years old when Madalynne came to work for the county. She’s been a dedicated and loyal employee, he said, seeing after the documents and training him in his new duties as clerk of chancery court.
“This day and time, it is hard to find people who will work for four to six years,” he said, “much less 46.”
Thomas said he has been treated like a grandson.
“She never lets me sign any court documents unless she has proofread them for accuracy,” Thomas said. “She does it to protect me and the county.”
Madalynne had only one condition when Thomas was elected chancery clerk, he said.
“She’s had a standing appointment at 4 p.m. on Fridays at the beauty shop,” Thomas said. “Her hair always looks good.”
Thomas said Madalynne has been his expert advisor, helping him learn the ropes and making sure he reads important documents carefully and through and through.
They are close friends and between the two of them, they know everyone in the county, he said.
At a glorious retirement reception Tuesday night last week, kind words were spoken by judges, attorneys and clerks regarding Madalynne’s service and character.
Sue Thomas, in introducing the selected speakers, said “Ms. Madalynne is an irreplaceable cornerstone around here.”
Greg Meek, now an Olive Branch attorney, came to Holly Springs in 1993 as a Department of Human Services attorney.
“Ms. Madalynne trained me and became my second mom,” Meek said. “A DHS attorney doesn’t bring one case, but 50 cases, at a time. Madalynne said to me, ‘Come on over here. I’ll take care of it.’ I thank you for all the attorneys for what you’ve done for us all these years. I’m not going to say goodbye. I love you so much.”
Chancellor Glen Alderson of Oxford said judges depend on their deputy clerks.
“When I was elected judge, I’d heard of Ms. Ash,” Alderson said, from other judges. “The judge told me, if you ever get stuck in anything, go see Ms. Madalynne. I now know Ms. Madalynne is known as Ms. Ash in Marshall County. We love you.”
Chancellor Ed Roberts agreed that judges and attorneys are often trained by their deputy clerks.
“For my entire 38 years of law practice and judging, you’ve been training me and it’s not going to be the same without you,” he said.
During the week in anticipating the reception, Roberts said three attorneys who practice and live outside Holly Springs all mentioned how much help Madalynne had been to them.
“I know you have had tragedy in your life and you have been loyal to church,” Roberts continued. “We are supposed to have servants’ hearts and you have a servant’s heart.”
Attorney Bill Schneller was up last after Sue Thomas teased, “She loves Bill. I don’t know why. She takes care of Bill and she defends Bill.”
The Holly Springs attorney said Madalynne has been working in the courthouse a year longer than he has been on the planet.
“I won her over with my daughter Kati, who called her Miss MadeLINE,” he said. “She’s saved me from countless mishaps. She’d call me and say ‘Bill....’ I guess everybody now knows why my case is always moved to the top of the docket. I don’t know how you do it, dealing especially with lawyers. But we appreciate what you’ve done.”
Deputy clerk Marsha Gail Finley thanked God first, then Madalynne, before she sang “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
Then she added, “I want everybody to know when I would buy two bags of potato chips, one was for Ms. Madalynne.”
She received many gift bags and flowers at her reception and a table was set before her for her friends and invited guests, estimated at between 175 and 200.
Asked how she liked her reception, she cheerfully said, “I think it is one of the best receptions we have ever had, don’t you?”
Yes, Ms. Madalynne, we do.
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