Peacock: After 37 years, ‘It’s time’ to retire

Published 10:10 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

Walking into the Pike County Courthouse is as natural to Brenda Peacock as breathing.

But, when she walks into the courthouse Oct. 15 for the last time as the Honorable Brenda Meadows Peacock Circuit Clerk of Pike County, she will have to pause just a moment to get her breath.

“It’s always hard to leave something you love, and I have loved serving the people of Pike County for the past 37 years,” Peacock said. “If someone had told me this time last year that I would be retiring, I would have said they were crazy. But, it’s time.”

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Peacock is a strong Christian and she said that God revealed to her at Christmastime last year that it was time for her life to take a different direction.

“I saw the signs and came to the decision through a lot of prayer,” she said. “And, when I made that decision, it was like the weight of the world was taken off my shoulders. My family needs me now more than ever. I know that I’m doing the right thing at this time in my life.”

When Peacock walked into the Pike County Courthouse as a 17-year-old, she had no idea that she was setting the course for the next 37 years of her life.

“I was cleaning house and cutting grass for Mrs. Myra Ward and helping Mama at the store when Robert Newman, who was the circuit clerk, hired me to do the typing and all the other jobs that needed to be done,” Peacock said. “I made $1.35 an hour but before he wrote the first check, Mr. Newman raised me to minimum wage, $1.65 an hour. That was big money back then.”

Peacock said it was actually the “fault” of Murray Langford, the business office education teacher at Charles Henderson High School, that she “ended up” at the courthouse.

“I had taken every business course they offered at Charles Henderson,” Peacock said. “He said I needed to do more than work at the store in Saco. It was his ‘fault’ that I took the job.”

If it were the “fault” of Langford that Peacock took the job, it was the “fault” of Myra Ward that she learned the workings of the office inside and out and the “fault” of Newman that she stayed.

Ward was the chief clerk at the office and she took young Peacock under her wing and, with the patience of Job, taught her everything she had learned.

“I had planned to go to college but Mr. Newman said for me to work a while and I could go to college later,” Peacock said and added laughing, “it’s later and I still haven’t gone.”

Robert Newman was more than Peacock’s boss. He was her mentor, her motivator, her inspiration and her “angel.”

“He encouraged me and supported me and gave me the confidence that, when the time came, I could do the circuit clerk’s job,” she said. “I had never run for an office before and I wasn’t into politics so I was scared to death to run for the office of circuit clerk.

But everyone in the circuit clerk’s office placed their confidence in Peacock.

“We all got together and prayed about what we needed to do,” she said. “We wanted someone to run for the office that would take care of us and take care of the public. I was the one they chose.”

Peacock was only 32 years old and had three young children. She knew that the job would be demanding and she would have to have the support of her family.

“My family was wonderful,” she said. “They were behind me all the way and my husband, Tommy, has always been my greatest cheerleader. He has more confidence in me than I have in myself.”

Peacock had five opponents in the first race and, when the votes were tallied, the people of Pike County had put their trust in her.

After proudly serving under the able leadership of Newman, 1973-1980, and Bill Stone, 1980-1989, Peacock was the first and only female elected to public office in Pike County. She has never considered herself a politician, rather a public servant. She has run for the office four times and has never been seriously challenged.

“My coworkers are like family, as are all of the people at the courthouse,” she said. “Really, all of Pike County is like family to me. When you’ve worked with the public as long as I have, you get to know almost everybody so I feel like I’m just a part of a big, wonderful family.”

The best part of being Pike County’s circuit clerk, Peacock said is being able to help people. The hardest part is seeing the hurt in parents’ eyes when their children are in trouble and she has no answer for them.

“All I can do is let them know I care,” she said.

After Oct. 15, Oct. 16 officially, Peacock will no longer be a public servant but she will continue to be a part of the Pike County community in many ways.

“I said that during the first week of my retirement I was going to stay home, do nothing and not see anyone,” Peacock said. “And, everybody says, ‘sure.’ They know that I’m not one to do that. Of course, I’ve got my babies to see about and I want to spend more time with my mother, sisters and other family members. I’m active in my church, Murphy’s Chapel. I’ll continue to do civic work and work on our farm, in the garden and canning. I’ll work with the horses and just enjoy life.”

Peacock said she loves home and doesn’t plan to travel too far except to Tennessee where they have Amish friends.

“I love their way of life,” she said. “I really admire those people. I could live like that. People have said that Tommy and I are Amish with electricity. I know that I won’t get bored. There’s too much I want to enjoy. I’m looking forward to having time at home and I have wonderful memories of the 37 years that I’ve spent with my second family at the Pike County Courthouse.”

And, when she walks out of the Pike County Courthouse on Oct. 15 leaving behind the office of circuit clerk, it will be with no regrets. Peacock said she always tried to do her best and be her best and she hopes that she will be remembered that way.’

“Will I cry? I don’t know,” she said. “I’m an idiot at funerals. I just don’t know whether I’ll cry but I know I will be happy because I know this is where God has led me.”