Eleanor Straight retiring with many friends

NEW CUMBERLAND – Her co-workers use many positive adjectives to describe what it’s been like working for Eleanor Straight at the Hancock County Courthouse – “a blessing,” “a friend,” “wonderful,” “honest and fair” but mostly “friend.”

Straight, currently county clerk for the commissioners says goodbye to her work family and her job Friday as she retires. She leaves behind a legacy of being the “go to” person for anything relating to Hancock County government. A 36-year veteran, Straight said she will miss her job and work family, but, “You’ve got to retire sometime.”

The admiration, respect and love for Straight from her co-workers was evident during a party in her honor during the lunch hour Wednesday, as dozens of co-workers, elected officials and friends brought enough covered dish food to feed a small army. It was jampacked with people in the courthouse basement from those gathered to wish Straight well, who began her career from the bottom and worked her way up to the top administrative position in the courthouse.

“Friday will be my last day,” said Straight. “I’ve been in the courthouse for 36 years, and I’ve been county clerk for 24 of them.”

The amount of work Straight was responsible for is staggering, and included keeping commission records, the civil service for county deputies, probates, wills, deeds, judgments, county payroll, audits – the list goes on and on.

“Anything that is a legal document here, I’m responsible for,” she said. “I also do all the bookkeeping for the county. I have five departments I run. It keeps your mind active. I don’t know if I know it all, but I do have a lot of knowledge (about county government).”

Straight began her career working in the county elections office, she said.

“I sat in the vault and cut out obituaries,” she said, adding after a time she was appointed chief deputy of the elections office. “I just worked my way from the bottom. I was appointed by the county commissioners as county clerk in 1989.

“I have a great crew to work with,” Straight continued. “Everyone in the courthouse gets along so well. I’ve met so many people through the years. They’ve all been fantastic.”

Straight said she tried to form a “family atmosphere” at the courthouse, believing happy employees make good employees. She said she will miss her fellow employees, elected officials and the public.

“We’ve just had a great working relationship,” she added. “It’s been a great group.”

George Foley, deputy clerk, said he would have the daunting task of taking over Straight’s duties after Friday. He said she was “irreplaceable.”

“People ask me if I’m replacing Eleanor Straight,” he said. “I tell them she can never be replaced. She’s more than just a boss. She makes working here like a family relationship. She just makes it so easy for everyone to do their jobs.”

Foley also said Straight worked with the public very well, and after talking with Straight people would leave the courthouse “grateful and satisfied” for her assistance.

(Miller can be contacted at mmiller@heraldstaronline)