The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

March 28, 2014

Hemphill hangs it up

Tommy helped put the shine on county buildings

By Jean Cole

— Tommy Hemphill helped put the shine on buildings in Limestone County over the past 21 1/2 years.

On Thursday — his last day of work for the Limestone County maintenance department — he was thinking about one thing only — doing nothing for a while.

“I asked my wife Barbara if it would be all right if I get to the honey-do list next year,” said Hemphill, 64, who is officially retired today. “I just want to do nothing for a while.”

Whatever needed doing

For the past two decades, he has done every sort of “light maintenance” at the Clinton Street courthouse annex, the Courthouse, the Washington Street annex and the Greenhaw, Market Street and Emergency Management Agency buildings.

“I just did whatever needed to be done — move furniture, replace a plug, fix a water leak, clean up indoors and outside,” he said.

Two decades of maintenance work “went by fast,” Hemphill said. “It’s been real good, but I’m ready to go.” 

Though ready for retirement, Hemphill said he would miss the people he saw each day while mopping floors, mowing grass, trimming shrubs and doing the tasks of the day.

“Everyone was very nice,” he said. Some were so nice that when they saw him mowing in summer and his shirt soaked with sweat, they would tell him they felt sorry for him.

But for Hemphill, who had been a roofer accustomed to sweating from head to toe before the county hired him, mowing was a cinch.

He said the good equipment the county provided made work easier and, if he got too warm, he would just “find some shade.”

Mule riding

In retirement, Hemphill said he may do a little fishing but, mainly, he plans to get out the mules and ride, soaking in the birds, the flowers and the quiet countryside near his home in Ardmore.

“I have old mules and a wagon, and I’m gonna go mule riding,” Hemphill said. “It’s relaxing for me.”

He won’t be bringing his mule wagon into town right away because “they are country mules not city mules. (City mules being those able to handle the stress of heavier traffic.)

Hemphill said he will miss his maintenance coworkers, Roy Lee Bailey and Ricky Smith, as well as Vicky Marbery at the Courthouse; Cathy Cothern at the Clinton Street annex; Kathy Newman at the board of education building; and Glenda Malone at the Market Street and Emergency Management Agency buildings.

They will miss him, too.

“I’ll miss working with him and cutting up,” Marbery said Thursday before Hemphill exited.

Pam Ball, county clerk administrator at the Washington Street annex, called Hemphill “one of the hardest working people I know. He will be missed by everyone.”