I am doing something in today’s column I had previously advised Wilmington News Journal Editor Tom Barr and reporter Gary Huffenberger I would not do. They had requested to do a story on my retirement from public office, but I preferred, rather, to slip away quietly without fanfare or attention.
On Dec. 31, 2018, my last official day serving as a Clinton County commissioner, Gary took some photos of my wife, Brenda, and me and wrote some very nice words about my public service career for the newspaper. As I reflected on Gary’s article, I felt I must take advantage of the opportunity to thank the people of Clinton County for their confidence and support of me over the years.
Looking back on my life, I have come to realize how profoundly blessed I have been. I began life in Port William and am amazed God saw fit to allow a small-town boy to live such an extraordinary life in many ways. Little did I know at the time the number of lives I would touch in my lifetime.
In 1970, I was sworn in as a patrol officer with the Wilmington Police Department. It was the beginning of my law enforcement career. It was a tremendous honor then, and has remained a tremendous honor throughout my service as deputy sheriff and as county sheriff.
When I was sworn in as Clinton County sheriff in 1980, my primary goal was to work to make our county better, our families and businesses safer, and our hopes for tomorrow a little brighter. I hope I accomplished those goals.
The year 2018 marked 48 years of service for me. My family has been incredibly supportive of everything I have done professionally, and they have suffered the slings and arrows so common in politics alongside me. They have been my sounding board, my confidantes and my defenders, expecting nothing in return.
It has been an honor to serve, and I am very proud of my service. I am not sad that my public service has come to an end, but rather I am very grateful that I had the unique opportunity to serve in the first place.
I thank the people of Clinton County for providing me the opportunity to serve not only as county commissioner, but also as county sheriff, which is a unique legacy.
I have always tried to earn and maintain the public trust and to be a good public servant.
Brenda and I sincerely treasure the friendships that have been forged during my years in public office and we hold them dear. Many people have asked me what I plan to do in retirement.
I am thankful to say my health is good, but I know the clock is still ticking and no day is promised. The opportunity to have more time to spend with Brenda, my family, many friends, as well as with our grandson, Jack, I must say is most appealing and I am truly excited.
I have no set plans other than enjoying life and appreciating each and every day God gives me. It is as simple as that.
I do plan to continue writing my human-interest story column for the Wilmington News Journal and other newspapers as long as they continue asking me to do so.
Thank you all for your support. It has been overwhelming and humbling for me.
It has always been my honor and my humble pleasure to serve the citizens of Clinton County.
Pat Haley is former Clinton County commissioner and former Clinton County sheriff.