By Clay Bailey
The Commercial Appeal
June 14, 1990
Germantown Clerk Retires From Temporary Job
When Jean Alessi became Germantown’s first court clerk, she anticipated she would be staying only a year or two before moving on to a new job.
That was in 1974. Ms. Alessi will retire from the post Friday, ending a career that spans 16 years as a record-keeper, fine-collector, and operator of Germantown’s court system.
Employees honored Ms. Alessi last week with the customary retirement lunch and gifts. Enough judges, prosecutors, and city officials spoke in her honor to make one think that court was in session.
“Jean’s kind of quiet,” said Mayor Charles Salvaggio. “She doesn’t have a lot to say, but when she does talk, people listen.”
City Prosecutor Glenn Millar, who has been a part of the Germantown court system as long as Ms. Alessi has, added that “I’ve really not met anybody who keeps her cool as well as she does. I don’t know if I‘ve ever heard her say a crossword to anyone.”
Ms. Alessi, 64, said retirement was one of the toughest decisions of her life. But with a longtime love for traveling, she decided there were places she still wants to visit. The first stop on the retirement tour will be Alaska in August.
The court clerk’s career started when she came to city offices to pay a water bill six months after moving to Germantown from Hammond, Ind. When former City Clerk Frances Sparkman asked what she did in Hammond, Ind. Alessi told her she was the court clerk.
That opened the door to her career. City officials called, asking her to start the city court clerk’s position. She took the job thinking she would work only a few years before leaving, and originally, she worked four days a week. Tuesday was her day to play golf.
When she started the court clerk’s office in the quaint surroundings of the old city hall near the center of town, there was a window similar to a theater box office to pay the bills. And the office wasn’t much bigger than one in an old theater. A cigar box held receipts, payments, records, and other court documents.
When they would rev up the fire trucks (in the station next door), my desk would vibrate, and I had to hold everything down,” she recalled.
When Ms. Alessi started the job, docket entries took up about six pages a week. Today, those entries take up about 45 pages a week. The court handled approximately 9,600 cases in 1989 and fines and court costs totaling almost $540,000.
It’s an admirable accomplishment that there has never been a file lost or a penny unaccounted for,” Millar said.
City Administrator Patrick Lawton said Angie Frazier, a senior court clerk, will become acting clerk “for an undetermined amount of time. We’ll evaluate her in that position before making a decision” on a replacement.
Ms. Alessi said she hopes to stay active in Germantown. She already is involved in the Germantown Charity Horse Show and has some interest in the Historic Commission. She said acquaintances always were amazed at how she spoke so highly of the city.
“People would say: “You sound like you have stock in that city, and I guess I did,” she said.