Laughter and tears were shared Wednesday by Rocky Mount city employees at the first of two retirement receptions for City Clerk Jean Bailey.
Assistant City Clerk Pam Casey surprised Bailey with a role reversal as she shared the first of two poems she wrote for the nearly 38 year city employee.
“Some time ago when I knew that Jean was first beginning to think of retiring I began to think about her reception, then I thought, ‘Wow, Jean won’t be here to write retirement poems anymore,’” Casey said. “Then I thought I wonder who will write her poem then I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, that might be me.’”
The poem she shared Wednesday afternoon in the City Hall atrium was made up of song lyrics commemorating Bailey’s devotion to the job and the pleasures that await her in retirement.
“Now some folks have the attitude: don’t rock the boat, don’t rock the boat, baby,” Casey said. “But not Jean, if it needs to be addressed, she will have you working day and night.”
After the last stanza, the two embraced.
“That was wonderful. It was great,” Bailey said. “She is more talented than I am.”
Administrative Assistant Kendra Silver presented Bailey with a colorful caricature depicting the red-coated city clerk’s many responsibilities, various community involvements and professional accomplishments.
“Your first impression of Jean is always about how stylish she looks,” Mayor David Combs said. “She always looks like she walked right out of a magazine.”
He said she always strived to keep city officials on track and up to speed on any issues in the community.
City Manager Charles Penny said Bailey has “been a tremendous asset to the community.”
“She came from Georgia, but she loves Rocky Mount,” Penny said. “She is retiring, but I expect to see her handiwork all around Rocky Mount.”
Penny took a moment to remember the love of Bailey’s life, Thomas Wesley “Wes” Bailey, who died in 2011.
“We love you Jean,” Penny said. “I love you, too.”
Bailey said she looks forward to spending her free time visiting her children, grandchildren, siblings and friends around the country and world – many of whom will be at the second retirement party from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday at the Imperial Centre.
“She will be sorely missed,” Silver said. “But she definitely made her mark in the city and abroad.”