NEWTON – The year Betty Bush began working in the Superior Court clerk’s office in Baker County, the movie “Psycho” — the original — was in theaters, John F. Kennedy was elected president and gasoline cost 31 cents per gallon.
Bush, whose 90th birthday was celebrated last December in the county’s courtroom, announced her retirement on Monday.
She began working at the office in 1960 as a deputy clerk and had served as the elected clerk of court for 31 years.
That makes her the longest-serving clerk in state history, said Adayna Broome, clerk of court in adjacent Mitchell County.
“We recognized her at the last clerk’s conference in April,” Broome said of Bush’s record time in office. “I will never outdo her tenure, and I don’t think anybody else will in the state of Georgia.”
Bush was deputy clerk before becoming chief clerk in 1987.
Deputy Clerk Stephanie Key, who will be sworn in July 1 as chief clerk to serve out the remainder of Bush’s current four-year term, responded to a question of how she thinks the clerk’s office will be different now with: “Oh, wow, I can’t. It’s going to be very different. But she’s only going to be a phone call away.”
Bush decided to retire to spend more time with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, said Key, who worked with Bush for 16 years and said she plans to seek election next year to a full four-year term.
“She trained me well,” Key said. “She was my motivation and she was my inspiration.”
Broome said that she was familiar with Bush from before the time they were both clerks. Before her election, Broome had contact with Bush because she worked in a lawyer’s office.
“She has served well over there,” said Broome, who was in Newton in December for the surprise birthday party given for Bush. “She loves everybody, and everybody loves her.”
Broome said clerks are close and see each other fairly frequently at conferences.
“Betty was with us every time we got together and had meetings,” she said.
“She’s a sweet, sweet person, and I love her to death.”