The end of an era

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2008

In today’s ever transient world, the number of

people who stay at one job for very long shrinks every year.

So when one elected official is honored for 34 years of service, we stand up and take notice.

William E. Laine is one such fellow. He served 34 consecutive years as Isle of Wight Clerk of the Circuit Court, eight-year terms after eight-year terms, a distinguished position in a county that prides itself on its rich history.

When Laine did retire in December, he could look back and take great pride in keeping up with changes on the job.

When he started in office, clerks used manual typewriters. Today, nearly all of the court’s records are stored electronically. Most information can be accessed from home computers.

That’s a long road from start to finish.

But Laine’s tenure was marked by another characteristic.

The man was respected by those he worked with and those who had dealings in the courthouse. That was apparent this fall when three candidates ran to fill his office.

About the only thing the three had in common was a respect for Laine. No one dared say a negative word about his tenure. Not only would it have been inappropriate, but it would have been political hara-kiri.

Eventually, he was succeeded by his longtime deputy, Sharon N. Jones, who campaigned on a platform of maintaining the course but continuing to modernize the operations.

At its June 10 meeting, the Board of Supervisors — most of whom were sworn into office by Laine — saw fit to present Laine with a resolution of appreciation for those many years of quality service.

The Laine family has been serving Isle of Wight for nearly a century. It was pointed out that Laine family members had served a total of more than 138 years of public service over more than 96 years.

Phillip Bradshaw, supervisor for the Carrsville District, called Laine a “walking encyclopedia.”

“It’s quite an honor. I’m very humbled,” Laine said. “I felt like I was simply doing my duty, and I enjoyed doing my duty.”

So did we.