Simonton is retiring Jan. 1, after 27 years as Probate Court judge.
“Serving as your Probate judge has been one of the honors of my lifetime,” he said. “To love what you do and feel that it matters — how could anything be more satisfying and rewarding?”
Simonton said, “What an honor it has been to come to work every morning in the Probate Office. I feel that we have been able to help many people during difficult time in their lives.”
He also commended and thanked those who served on his staff over the years — Jan Hunt, Pat Wilkerson, Chuck Whatley, Carol Conkle, Jean Whalen, Susan Fennell, Linda Gilbert and Audrey Swain.
“I want to express my utmost confidence in our new Probate Judge Jan Hunt,” he said. “I feel she will do an excellent job for the citizens of Spalding County.”
Simonton also offered his assistance “to the city and county in whatever way it may be needed,” and announced his plans, after his retirement, to petition the governor for appointment as a senior judge of the Probate Courts of Georgia. He explained under state code any judge of a Probate Court who ceases to hold office as a judge and has at least eight years experience may be appointed as a senior judge by the governor.
“I have enjoyed my 27 years serving as Spalding County Probate judge and would enjoy serving as a senior judge on a part-time basis,” he said.
He explained that a senior judge may be called upon to serve as a judge in any Probate Court in which the judge is otherwise qualified to serve, and may be called on preside and assist any other Probate judge who may be unable to serve because of disability, illness, absence or any other reason.
At the reception, Simonton was presented with painting of the courthouse, a framed certificate signed by the county administrative staff and a plaque from a club he founded, the Wednesday Luncheon and Social Club. County County Manager William Wilson Jr. and Jan Hunt presented the painting, County Clerk Ricky Clark read and presented the certificate, while the plaque was presented fellow club members Jesse Bradley and Raymond Ray.
There was also on display a Simonton campaign sign from 1985, a book of photos and a signed copy of Vince Dooley’s book “History and Reminiscences of the University of Georgia,” which Simonton said was presented to him by the District Probate Court judges.