Tudy Mears retires after nearly 30 years with Holmes County Tax Collector

Tudy Mears was visibly emotional after hearing her co-workers talk about how she has impacted their lives and local residents as the Holmes County Chief Deputy Tax Collector. Mears retired from the office Friday, June 28 after nearly 30 years of service. She is pictured here at the party with her husband, Terry Mears. [CAROL KENT | The News]

CAROL KENT | ckent@kentsmith.biz

Tudy Mears took one last look at her desk in the Holmes County Tax Collector’s office Friday, June 28, and reflected on memories made over her nearly 30-year career, a career that began when she was a young college student attending Chipola College.

“I first started working part time for former Tax Collector Edna Varnum in 1978,” said Mears. “I was part time until I graduated in 1979, and then I went full time until I got married in 1980 and moved away for 17 years.”

Mears returned to Holmes County – and the tax collector’s office – in 1997, at which time she went to work for Tax Collector Fran Fuller as a tag clerk. 

Mears says she has seen many changes over the years, but among the most notable have been those made as a result of changing technology.

“We went from typing from typing the registrations and title applications on a typewriter and pulling a sticker to running everything through the computer,” she mused.

Mears would eventually be promoted to Chief Deputy Tax Collector by current Tax Collector Harry Bell.

“I went from doing just tag renewals to doing just about anything,” she said. While Mears worked her way up from an entry level position to second in command, she says she was blessed to be surrounded by co-workers who took the time to share their wisdom and experience to help her hone her skills and service to the public.

“Juanita Wilson served as Chief Deputy under Edna and Fran, and I considered her a mentor,” said Mears. “She was just a wealth of knowledge. She took me under her wing and taught me what to do. I do appreciate all the tax collectors I have worked for and everything they did for me. It’s a small town, and I know that not everyone gets these opportunities.”

Today, it is Mears’ co-workers who look to her as a mentor. 

Tudy Mears’ Holmes County Tax Collector co-workers hosted a surprise retirement party for her at the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, June 26. From left: April Helmes, Erin Moran, Christi Malloy, Tax Collector Harry Bell, Tudy Mears, Connie Peacock, and Sam Gordon. [CONTRIBITED]

“There are not many that can compare to Tudy Mears,” said Christi Malloy, who will now serve as Bell’s second in charge with Mears’ retirement. “She is the epitome of excellence and as loyal as an employee as much as a friend.”

“She is a ‘gets things done’ kind of lady who stays late and works longer and I dare say harder than most. She is there until the task is finished. She prides herself one excellence, and she’s one who don’t have to check behind.”

Malloy went on to say she would miss working with Mears every day.

“The Holmes County Tax Collector’s office has been a great place to be, and one of the many reasons is because working with [Mears] was never hard because this lady is easy to love. May we continue to honor all her good years and hard work. Her shoes will be hard to fill.”

Tax Collector Harry Bell agrees.

“Tudy’s contributions to our office have been substantial and certainly in line with our mission to provide excellent service to the citizens of Holmes County,” said Bell. “We have a mission to serve, and she was always an integral part of that mission. We wish her all the best. Hers is a retirement well earned.”

Several co-workers, friends, and family members surprised Mears Wednesday, June 26, with a retirement party at the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce building.

Mears said she was both honored and touched by the gesture.

“It was very emotional because we are like family,” she said. “You stay here longer than you’re at home. I enjoy what I do, and I was very honored that they thought enough of me to do that.”

While she will miss her work family, Mears says she is also looking forward to the future, especially spending time with her grandchildren and taking trips with her husband, Terry Mears.

“I get to do all the things I left undone while working,” she laughed. “Terry and I are going to do some day trips and spend time with family. We are going to just enjoy life.”

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