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The end of an era: Longtime county employee retires after 40 years
Judy Conaway talks with longtime county employees Kathy Scribner and Hannah Kunkle. - Kelsey Kruzich / Staff Photo
When Judy Conaway wakes up on Jan. 2, it won't be because her alarm clock went off. There will be no early wake-up call on that day for Conaway who, after 40 years with Collin County, will be retiring at the end of the year.
The longest-serving employee in county history, Conaway's co-workers in the district clerk's office threw her a going-away party Tuesday. The party was well attended, because as one partygoer said, "Judy knows everyone in the county."
Conaway is one of only a handful of county employees who have worked at all three county courthouses, including the original one on the square in McKinney that was in use for more than a century.
Conaway worked for the county for three months in the summer of 1971, before beginning fulltime in January 1972. She was originally in the microfilm department, but moved to the district clerk's office 28 years ago.
In a time where many people change jobs every few years, Conaway said it was the people she worked with that made the job enjoyable.
During her time with the county, a lot of things have changed, Conaway said.
"When I was doing the summer job I was working in the auditor's office, but they sent me over to work with the district attorney," she said. "They set me down at a desk that had an electric typewriter and I was like, 'I don't know how to use that.' In high school we had only manual typewriters."
To make her bon voyage more memorable, Conaway got a surprise going-away gift from outgoing County Commissioner Joe Jaynes - an official Collin County vehicle.
"We were talking about her retiring after 40 years and I asked her what she wanted for her retirement, and she said she wanted a vehicle," said Jaynes, who is also retiring Dec. 31 after 16 years in office. "So today I presented her with an official vehicle - a small toy truck with the official county logo on it."
All jokes aside, Jaynes said the county will lose a valuable resource when Conaway retires.
"It would be great if someone could just sit down with her and ask her what things were like when she was hired," he said. "We are going to lose a lot of the institutional history that is not written down anywhere, but luckily she is the type that all you have to do is pick up the phone and she will get you the answer."
Lorrie Robertson, the senior administrator in the district clerk's office, has worked for Conaway for 27 years. She said Conaway has always been there whenever someone needed her; thus her retirement will be like losing a member of the family.
"We were with her when she met her future husband in Dallas and when they got married," Robertson said, adding that they gave Conaway a hard time for marrying a younger man. "We have been with her when she had kids and when she was raising teenagers. We are going to miss her."
Conaway said retirement will allow her to spend more time taking care of her mother and father. She said she may get a part-time job, but did say she may take a little time off before going down that route.
After all, she said, "I guess I do deserve a little time off."
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