After 30 years of service to the community, Fayette County Clerk of Courts Evelyn Pentzer is retiring at the end of this year.
The Record-Herald recently spoke with Pentzer about her long career within the county. She started out working part-time at Huntington Bank when Clerk of Courts, Ann L. Marvin, was serving. Pentzer said during an interview Tuesday that Marvin would stop into the bank and make the deposit for the Clerk of Courts’ office.
“She kept on me and asked me several times if I would like to work for her at the courthouse,” Pentzer said. “I’m from Pennsylvania so I wasn’t in Ohio too awful long when that happened. Huntington Bank started working me on Saturdays and my husband was not a fan of that, as we had three little kids. So when she came one more time to the window I said, ‘Sure!’”
She began as a deputy clerk in the final years of Marvin serving as clerk of courts, and said that when she started she had to teach herself a good portion of the job. Pentzer said she remembers the day she began because it was the day her office received its first air conditioner, July 2, 1984. At the time it was just Pentzer, Marvin and one other employee to complete the work for the courts. In 1988, Marvin retired and asked Pentzer if she wanted to take the position, but being inexperienced, she turned it down.
“Larry Long got elected, so he was the next clerk and I worked for him all of these years until I became clerk myself,” Pentzer said. “He left a few months early and I was appointed. He had named me the chief deputy while he was here so that helped a lot with learning the job. “
Since 2008, Pentzer has served the community as clerk of courts. Over the years, Pentzer has dedicated herself to her work and attended regular education meetings with the Ohio Clerk of Courts Association. Pentzer said she has also served on numerous committees and a number of plaques displayed in her office show these years of service.
In 2015, Pentzer was honored with the Dr. Richard Aft – Live United Award. The award is named after Dr. Richard Aft, an Ohio United Way Emeritus board member who has been supporting United Way efforts in various capacities since 1961. Dr. Aft is a retired president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. Pentzer was presented the award for her efforts to raise money for the United Way thanks to an annual Tailgating on the Courthouse Lawn event. Pentzer started this event about nine years ago to help fund raise for United Way and has raised over $7,000 since it began.
“I organized it but all of the employees in the courthouse were involved,” Pentzer said. “We are real proud of that. We have to thank the merchants in the area as well, as they donated a lot to that event over the years. I am hoping that event is continued to be held in the future after I leave.”
Over the years, Pentzer also worked to improve many aspects of government in Fayette County. Pentzer is in charge of three different offices with their own unique set of challenges: the title department, the license bureau and her legal office at the courthouse. She said she has been proud of her staff for the wonderful customer service they provide and has been fortunate to have such employees.
“I have worked closely with my staff to implement two new software since I have been in this position that help with recording cases in the legal department,” Pentzer said. “I also worked closely with my staff to implement a state-wide streamlined process for car titles within the county. One of my employees went for training so it took a long time to get going, but it did go well. Shortly after entering office I also entered into a 4-D contract with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. This earns revenue for the general fund as we handle domestic cases that they initiate. So we get compensated for that, it was a lot of work to get it set up, but it was worth every bit and generates money monthly for the fund. ”
Additionally, thanks to excess money from a title fund after adjusting her budget this year, Pentzer said she was also able to purchase a much needed van for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office. It still has not come in, but she hopes to take a ride in the new vehicle before she retires.
During her tenure, Pentzer said she has seen a lot of people come and go, including judges. She said that all of the employees and judges have been wonderful, but mentioned one particular judge she remembers fondly, Omar Schwart.
“I love Judge Steven Beathard, but one judge that stands out a little bit to me was Omar Schwart,” Pentzer said. “He was a unique person, let alone being a judge. He would make his own peanut butter, make his own jerky, and he always had a theory about something and would come in to share it with us. We have had some interesting cases in the courtroom with him as well, some pretty wild ones. I also wanted to mention my chief deputy we lost over the summer, Wendi Swigert. She pretty much started when I did and worked in the title department. She did an amazing job over there and she will be missed.”
Pentzer said one of the highlights of her time serving the community is when she gave tours of the courthouse and said she is going to miss doing those. She said one of her favorite pieces of history at the courthouse are the murals by Archibald M. Willard, and she recently had a unique visitor to the courthouse in relation to the murals.
“I am just hooked on the murals,” Pentzer said. “In October a little lady came in to see me. The judge’s office sent her over here and she was the great-great niece of Archibald Willard. She is remarkable. She’s 92 and she is on Facebook and I hear from her all the time. It is like I have known her for years. She said she came in for a tour about 20 years ago and was certain I had given her the tour.”
Now that she begins approaching her last days in office, Pentzer said following retirement she will sleep in more, attend games for her grandchildren, and also plans on volunteering, though she isn’t sure in what capacity yet. With her husband of 50 years, three daughters and six granddaughters though, she said she is expecting to fill her time with her family.
“Several of my granddaughters are involved in sports, but their games can be far away, so by the time I got off at 4:30 it was a little too late to go join them,” Pentzer said. “I am looking forward to being able to go to their games and we are planning to go to Florida in February.”
Pentzer’s last day as clerk is Dec. 31. A new clerk of courts will be appointed by the Fayette County Republican Central Committee at a later date.
Pentzer thanked the community and voters for continuing to support her over the years. She said she was very thankful to be able to realize her dream and to serve the community, but could not have done any of it without the citizens.
“Serving the residents of Fayette County as their elected clerk of courts has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” Pentzer said. “However, the time has come for me to begin a new chapter.”
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy