Calling it a career

Published 10:59 pm Thursday, September 4, 2008

Fern Baker has experienced both continuity and change in her life and career. She has called more than 30 states home, yet she has held the same job title for 20 consecutive years.

On Sept. 30, she will retire as deputy circuit court clerk after nearly 32 years of service in the Chilton County Courthouse.

“I enjoyed my work, and I could keep working,” Baker says. “It has changed so much here, everything.”

Baker, 73, graduated from Verbena High School in 1953 and attended the local trade school before going to work with the Chilton County Republican Party. Formerly Fern Edwards, she was raised on property in Clanton that has remained in the family since it was first settled.

In January 1977, Baker went to work as a clerk for then Circuit Court Clerk Morris Moates, who had promised her a position. Under the latter part of Moates’ term, she was promoted to deputy clerk and has since worked under circuit clerks Eloise Mims, Mike Smith and currently Glen McGriff.

Baker’s position as deputy clerk became permanent during Smith’s 18-year tenure as circuit court clerk.

“I had traveled a lot, and that helped me,” she said, speaking from experience gained while traveling with her husband, Elbert Baker, a former engineer for H.C. Price International Pipeline.

Over the years, Baker’s duties have entailed bookkeeping, issuing warrants, striking jurors, signing checks in the absence of the clerk, filing circuit, civil, domestic, criminal and juvenile cases; and appellate work.

Judges she has worked under include Walter Hayden, John Bush, Steve Drinkard, Sibley Reynolds, Ben Fuller and Robert Bowers.

Now, simply put, Baker says she is “ready to go home.”

A retirement party for Baker is set for Friday, Sept. 19 at 3 p.m. in the large courtroom. She requests no gifts but invites everyone to attend.

–Scott Mims can be reached at