Register of Deeds Pritchard to retire in June
By Jon Hawley
Friday, April 19, 2019
Pasquotank County Register of Deeds Joyce Pritchard plans to retire on June 1, ending a public service career that's spanned more than three decades.
After working for the county since 1983, Pritchard said this week she's retiring to spend more time with family.
Assistant Register of Deeds Clem White will finish the year-plus remaining on Pritchard’s four-year term and plans to run for the permanent job next year, Pritchard said.
County commissioners have tentatively approved White as interim register of deeds. Further action is slated for commissioners’ meeting on May 6, according to County Manager Sparty Hammett.
Pritchard herself first became register of deeds by appointment, succeeding Dollie Summerour, who retired in 2009. She ran for election in 2012, winning a four-year term. She was re-elected in 2016.
Though an important and elected position, the register of deeds is also low profile, Pritchard explained in an interview Thursday. Her office handles vital records, including birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, land transactions and plats, and military discharge records.
That means all kinds of different people turn to the office for one thing or another, she said. Examples include parents who need birth certificates to enroll their kids in school, funeral homes that need death certificates, attorneys who need real estate records, and people researching their genealogy.
Pritchard said she first started with the county by working for the Pasquotank Health Department, now known as Albemarle Regional Health Services. She did clerical work in a clinic, meaning she worked often with the Register of Deeds Office on birth and death certificates.
That overlap made transitioning to the Register of Deeds Office a natural fit, and she got hired to work there by then-Register of Deeds Joe Spence.
Asked why she's worked so long for the office, Pritchard explained she enjoys helping people with the varied records they need.
“It's something different every day,” she said.
Pritchard also commented on how the office has changed over the years. The adoption and advancement of computers is one major change, allowing the office to produce more records more quickly for citizens. She noted other registers' offices are adopting a system that allows citizens to access birth certificates produced anywhere in North Carolina. She expects the Pasquotank office will also adopt it at some point.
Pritchard has also seen social change. Recounting how same-sex marriages were legalized in 2013, she said her office now issues around 10 marriage licenses for same-sex couples a year.
In retiring now, Pritchard shared that her sister passed away last year from pancreatic cancer, so she wants to spend even more time with family now.
“I've always known what the most important things are,” she said.