Suwannee Democrat


December 19, 2013

White Springs town clerk retiring after 18 years

Jasper — White Springs Town Clerk Shirley Heath will be entering the world of retirement in January and she is nothing short of ecstatic and anxious to spend time with her husband and family and maybe do a little traveling.

Born in Atlanta, Ga. Heath married the love of her life Gary Heath and they went on to have two children, a daughter, Kelly Waters, who lives in Live Oak, and a son, Ricky Heath, who resides in Keystone Heights. The Heaths have three grandchildren, Kary Black, Live Oak, Kevin Waters, Montgomery, Ala, and Tanek Heath, Keystone Heights.

“I feel they are my greatest accomplishments,” said Heath.

Heath and her family left Atlanta in 1978 when her husband entered full time ministry.

“When our children were young we would travel south on I-75 into Florida for vacations and I would see the sign, Stephen Foster State Park, but we never made it,” said Heath. “Now, since 1994, we have lived at the north gate to the park.”

Being in the ministry, the Heaths moved several times, never staying over eight years in one place; just going where the Lord would have them go.

“We love living in White Springs where I can look out my back door and see deer, rabbits, and unfortunately, coyotes from time to time,” said Heath. “I am a member of Suwannee Station Baptist Church and Gary serves from time to time as interim pastor. He is also called upon to assist other churches.”

Heath briefly attended Bible College while in Atlanta, attended Southern Baptist Convention training seminars on leadership, training and education through the Florida Association of City Clerks and the International Institute of Municipal Clerks where she earned first, her Certified Municipal Clerk designation, and then a Master Municipal Clerk designation.

“I have been active in FACC serving on the Mentoring Committee and other committees,” she said. “I held a variety of jobs before moving to White Springs. Thirteen years as church secretary, three years as a graphic artist at a printing company, worked for a funeral home, credit department of a furniture company, and also worked for a county extension office in South Georgia,” she added.

On Nov. 16, 1995, Heath started working for the town of White Springs as a temporary administrative assistant.

“I was promoted a few months later to a full time administrative assistant position,” said Heath. In June of 1996, she was appointed as the town clerk.

“I was hesitant at first to accept the position, but encouragement from Gary and a phone call from Gail Sittig in former Governor Lawton Chiles’ office changed my mind. Who can turn down the governor?”

Heath said she feels blessed to have had a wonderful predecessor by the name of Jackie Cannon.

“Jackie’s knowledge and skills were very valuable in my future position as clerk,” Heath explained. “We did not know at the time, but she was actually assisting me to fill her position when she left the town employment for another position.”

Heath also served as interim town manager on two different occasions.

“I have been very blessed throughout the past 18 years to work with a wonderful and knowledgeable staff, town council members and mayors,” said Heath. “I would not have been successful without their help and assistance working together as a team. As I reflect back on the years, the friends I made, my fellow colleagues, professionals, the many elections I supervised, the many, many council meetings and workshops I attended, I sincerely hope that I have represented the town in a positive and professional manner, and that I will be remembered fondly.”

Heath’s official retirement date is Jan. 20, 2014, but her last working day will be Friday, Jan. 17, 2014.

“My plans for the future are, of course, in God’s hands, but we plan to travel and spend time with our family and friends, and maybe attend a council meeting,” she said. “I sincerely wish the town council and staff the very best and I know they will continue to move the town forward and prosper. I am very thankful for the opportunity granted me to serve as their town clerk.”

Heath wanted to share the town clerk poem with the public. It states:

“When council battles are over and all the votes cast, there’s only one voice that lasts; it’s not the Chair’s voice, strong though that voice may be, or the voice that’s the loudest that becomes history; it is words that are written by one who sits by, who listens and watches with an observant eye. Yes, the words that live on is the official work recorded so carefully by the Municipal Clerk!” (author unknown)

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