Electoral board honors Willis for 25 years of service

by Elsa Cooke Verbyla - Posted on Mar 02, 2011 - 04:28 PM

Photo: Leslie Willis, center, receives an engraved clock from fellow Mathews County Electoral Board members Josie Thorpe, left, and Bert Cross. Willis retired Monday after serving on the board for 25 years. Photo by Elsa Cooke Verbyla.

Leslie Willis, center, receives an engraved clock from fellow Mathews County Electoral Board members Josie Thorpe, left, and Bert Cross. Willis retired Monday after serving on the board for 25 years. Photo by Elsa Cooke Verbyla.

Mathews County’s election officials honored Leslie C. Willis on Monday afternoon as he retired after serving 25 years on the Mathews County Electoral Board. His service included 21 years as chairman.

The ceremony in the historic courthouse included a reception, presentation of an engraved clock, and remarks.

Ruth Ann Hutson, county registrar, noted that during Willis’s term of service, the county has had three registrars (Harriett Hudgins, Jeanette Tomlinson and herself); seen its electorate grow from 4,720 to 6,800 registered voters; moved from 700-pound mechanical voting machines to the current lightweight, computerized touch-screen machines; and entrusted him and his board and officials "to conduct elections honestly and fairly," regardless of which political party is in power.

Bert Cross, vice chairman of the electoral board, commented on the years he has known the Willis family and its dedication to public service (Leslie Willis’s wife Wilnet was a long-term member of the school board). Fellow member Josie Thorpe said that when she joined the electoral board, Willis made sure she knew the duties and that at conventions she met the state officials with whom she would be working.

Willis expressed gratitude to fellow board members, election officials and those with whom he worked in the past "for making my job so easy." He said that Mathews County "is the finest place to be" and that it has been a pleasure "to serve the citizens of Mathews." He greeted each member of the large group that turned out to honor him.