Saying goodbye to a public servant
June Smith's honesty, integrity, professionalism and dedicated service to the citizens of Barry County for the past 42 years were celebrated last Friday during an open house and reception held in honor of the retiring assessor.
A big crowd, which included current and former officeholders, family members and friends, gathered at the Barry County Courthouse for the event. The front of the old circuit courtroom was lined with flowers sent by wellwishers, and several of Smith's colleagues spoke about their respect and admiration for a woman who has served the Barry County Assessor's Office for over four decades.
Barry County Presiding Commissioner Cherry Warren said he would miss working alongside Smith in county government and spoke of her honesty and her ability to work well with the citizens and her fellow officeholders. He also read a special proclamation that was read by State Senator Jack Goodman on the Senate floor in honor of Smith's service to Barry County.
Taney County Assessor James Strahan, who travelled from Branson to attend Smith's reception, said Smith's reputation for professionalism extended beyond the county's borders.
"June represented Barry County and southwest Missouri very well at our state meetings," said Strahan.
Barry County Collector Janice Varner has worked very closely with Smith over the past eight years, and when asked to share her thoughts about Smith, Varner held back tears.
"June's been fantastic to work with," said Varner. "I came in as a greenhorn and she helped me. She's been a good teacher.
"I've known June and the Smith family for a long time," Varner continued. "June is a good Christian lady with good values. I'm going to miss her."
In all, over 140 people attended Smith's reception to offer their thanks as well as wishes for a fulfilling retirement.
"I was thrilled that so many people decided to come to my reception," said Smith. "The assessor is not always everyone's favorite person, and to think that so many people took the time to come out, it's overwhelming."
When asked if she would like to say anything to the citizens of Barry County, Smith said she would like people to know that she appreciated their cooperation over the years and how cordial they were to her.
"As a whole people have been just super," said Smith. "If you take the time to listen, you can work out just about anything."
Looking back over the past 42 years, Smith said the highlights of her career have included working with the public, her staff and her fellow officeholders.
"I have always just loved the job from day one," said Smith. "Everybody here cooperates and works well together. It's been a good 42 years."
Smith's last day as Barry County assessor will be Tuesday, Sept. 1. On that day, Sherry Sears will officially begin her first term as the county's new assessor.
"I have unbelievably big shoes to fill," said Sears. "You couldn't ask for a more caring or considerate boss. She listens to the public and listens to us, her staff, also. We work as a team, and she has been the coach of that team."
In her retirement, Smith said she plans to do some volunteer work and travel.
"And I love to work in my garden," Smith added.