Taft began working for the county part-time in May 1995 but was hired full-time as a clerk in September.
Walker County Probate Judge Rick Allison said Taft had worked in every department within the Probate Office over the years before being appointed to the position of Chief Clerk in 2001, following the retirement of then-chief clerk Nelda Barton.
”Rita has done a great job and she has earned this (her retirement). I’ve tried to talk her out of it,” Allison said. “But she’s ready to go and I don’t blame her, because it’s what she has worked so hard for all these years.”
Allison said Friday will officially be Taft’s last day on the job, but a special reception is being held Wednesday from 2 until 4 p.m. at the Probate Office to celebrate her retirement.
Taft said she is looking forward to spending time with her family. Taft and her husband, Terry, have been married 42 years and have two children, Brian Taft and Jenny Talley. They also have three grandchildren, Dayton Talley, Julianna Talley and Daxton Talley.
”My husband is also retired, and we’re looking forward to spending time with our grandchildren,” Taft said. “I love my job, but I felt it was just time for me to retire.”
Taft said her time at the Probate Office has been very interesting, and she has enjoyed working with everyone.
”We’ve had some really good times and I’ve really enjoyed working with Judge Allison and everyone here at the office,” Taft said. “There have been several memorable moments over the years, a few scary ones at times, but all in all I’ve enjoyed it.”
Allison said Taft will be greatly missed by those who have worked with her over the years.
“Rita has been a great chief clerk. She has been my right-hand and I’m going to miss her dearly, but I hope she will have a long and enjoyable retirement,” Allison said. “She hasn’t always agreed with what I’ve had to say, and she didn’t hesitate to make me aware of that at times. But that’s OK, because we all need someone to help us stay focused and on course, and Rita was that person.”
Pat Murphree said she has worked with Taft over 17 years.
”Rita has been there for me through thick and thin. She’s been a backbone for me and my family through many tough times, at work and outside work,” Murphree said. “She has taught me many values and work ethics that have helped me in many different ways. I have enjoyed working with her. I wish her the best, because I know how much she wants to be with and enjoy her grandchildren.
Jacelyn Nesbitt said she is worried about Taft leaving but hopes Taft enjoys her retirement and will come back to visit often.
“With Rita leaving, we might all starve or at least lose 10 pounds. I’ll miss her cornbread most of all,” Nesbitt said. “She isn’t too bad a person either. I’m just kidding. I love her and will miss her very much.”
June Clark said she too will miss having Taft around everyday.
”Rita is a wonderful person to work for and with. She’s professional, a great cook, caring, considerate, thoughtful and has a good sense of humor that really helps in a sometimes stressful workplace,” Clark said.
Jan Gregory said she has learned a lot from working with Taft over the past 15 years because Taft is the virtue of patiences and strength when needed and compassionate with all of the employees.
“Family comes first with Rita, and she has instilled that in all of us through the years,” Gregory said. “I have a lot of fond memories of working with her over the years that I will always cherish. But all I can say is...not all angels have wings.”