It is worth noting that as E. Eugene Callis III prepares to retire after 41 years as Mathews County clerk, he is completing the third remarkably long successive tenure in that office.
Eugene Callis went to work as deputy clerk in 1967, learning the ropes under Clerk of Court William B. Smith. Upon Mr. Smith’s retirement in 1971, Callis became the clerk.
William Smith had encyclopedic knowledge of the county, the courts and the office. He had been appointed to the clerk’s office in 1914 upon the sudden death of his father, Sands Smith, whose passing was deeply lamented in the community.
Sands Smith became the clerk in 1886, having been county sheriff for a number of years before that time.
So, three men—Smith, Smith and Callis—have held down the clerkship for 126 years, spanning the decades of three centuries.
Even more astonishing is that they have done this with only two contested races. According to Gazette-Journal files, Sands Smith had competition for the clerk’s job only once, in 1889. William Smith was never opposed. Eugene Callis had an opponent in just one election.
Dedicated public service, good knowledge of the work and the community, and the ability to work with people, are the most likely reasons that Mathews County has had just three clerks in 126 years. And this longevity has provided stability at the county helm that other localities must envy. It’s not likely we will see such a remarkable record again, but it certainly is an event worth noting.