Janie Reese, the first black woman to be hired in High Point’s clerk of court office, calls it a career

Nov. 17, 2013 @ 03:00 PM

 Janie Reese has walked into the building located at the corner of E. Green Drive and Centennial Street for the last 51 years.
That ended recently when Reese retired from the High Point’s clerk’s office.
“This is my first week of retirement, and the adjustment is something else,” Reese said. “I am going to get used to it. I believe it was my time. I am 72 years old. I miss the people more than anything else.”
On June 20, 1970, Reese became the first black woman to be hired in the Guilford County High Point clerk’s office.
“It was a trying experience, but with my personality I was able to adjust,” Reese said. “Things that were said before me couldn’t be said once I came into the fold. Some people were ugly, but the majority of them accepted me as a person.”
She started in the criminal department of the clerk’s office. During her time there, she worked under six different clerks, with David Churchill being the last one.
“Mr. Churchill was a very caring boss,” Reese said. “He is a very caring man, and it means a lot when you have a boss like that.”
She was promoted to the assistant clerk and supervisor of the criminal division before being named the administrative assistant over the High Point division, in which she retired from.
“It was trying, but I worked my way up as far as I could,” Reese said.
Her duties included setting up new cases, assisting the public, corresponding with other states concerning child support cases and working in various courtrooms. According to Reese, she enjoyed working in the courtrooms the most.
“I loved it. It was very interesting. There were a few cases that disturbed me highly, like the rape and incest cases. They disturbed me most of all,” Reese said.
Cases in child-support court often were difficult as well, she said.
“You heard the same stories over and over again,” Reese said. “Of course, the women didn’t get the money. Some people preferred to take the time rather than take care of the children, which is left to the citizens to take care of.”
On one occasion, when the judge told a young man that he didn’t know what to do with him. Reese blurted out that she did.
“We had been in there all day and the judge was getting frustrated, everybody was getting frustrated,” Reese said. “It was our next-to-the-last case.”
Reese said everyone in the courtroom started laughing to the point that the judge had to get off the bench.
Reese said the clerk’s office held a retirement reception and she was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
cdavis@hpe.com | 888-3657