After working in the County Clerk’s office for more than 30 years, Mary Beth Merritt has announced her retirement. Merritt will be starting a new chapter in her life on Jan. 1, 2023, taking with her the title of longest-serving clerk in Summers County’s history.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.” As Merritt transitions from one chapter to the next, she continues to embody this ideal.
Like every journey, Merritt’s time in office had a beginning. Merritt credits the decision to run, to her time as a Deputy Clerk and working with “Barbara, Rachel, Vera, Ruth and Joyce, who were examples of true public servants as our customers were the priority. It has been very rewarding work.”
Merritt stated that her favorite part of acting in this capacity has been working with people. She said, “…issuing a marriage license, birth certificate, filing a deed for a new homeowner, helping potential candidates file for public office, comforting family members who are filing a will for a family member.”
In every adventure, there is always one particular moment that stands out. Merritt shared her moment.
“One rainy election night we had to process ballots with the air conditioning blaring in November so that the scanners would scan, working way past midnight but, we made it happen. In later years, we were one of the first counties to declare our election results election night statewide.”
When asked what she would consider her greatest accomplishment, Merritt said, “Working for the public has been my priority, and I am very proud of how I was able to get grants for our office. We have completely computerized the office along with maintaining a manual backup of all of our records. Some may say that we are doing extra work. I say I have confidence that the records that are entrusted to me are completely backed up, preserved, and physically maintained in the office.”
“Personally, at age 58, I thru-hiked the entire 77 miles of the Greenbrier River Trail in four days with my sons. Who knows, possibly I’ll tackle the Allegheny or Appalachian Trails someday.”
Hiking is one of Merritt’s passions along with her family and church. After retiring, Merritt has plans to spend more time on her passions. She said, “After retirement, I want to spend more time with family, plan to serve the Lord in a greater capacity, travel, and Hike!
When speaking about her time as County Clerk, Merritt reminisced, “I’ve been blessed to be the longest-serving County Clerk in the history of Summers County. I would like to thank the voters who have had the confidence in me to elect me and support me throughout these 31 years. I have never missed administering an election in Summers County since 1986.”
Many Summers County citizens have worked with Merritt throughout her time in the Clerks office. Some of them shared memories and stories of these occurrences. Laura Lilly said, “I have worked several elections since moving here to WV. Mary Beth has been wonderful to work with over the years. She is always well prepared and professional. She truly cares about the citizens of this county, and her work ethic has proved it throughout her career.”
Another Summers County resident, Kimberly Hanna said, “Mary Beth is a one of a kind woman. She’s sweet, caring, and just 100 percent genuine. I worked with her for a short while at the courthouse, and it was one of the best experiences.”
Merritt noted that she could not imagine what path she would have taken had she not become County Clerk. She said, “Only the Lord knows this answer. I have loved my job as Summers County Clerk.”
The process for finding the new County Clerk has already begun, and the timeframe to file for office is Jan. 10 through 29. The County Clerk is not the only office that needs to be filled this election season. Others include the Circuit Clerk, the Greenbrier County Commissioner’s seat and several others. Merritt provided advice for the next person to fill the role of County Clerk saying, “You are elected by the people, and they are your boss. Listen to them and give them 100 percent.”