ROCKINGHAM — “It has been such a pleasure to work with — almost all of you here,” joked former District Court Judge Lisa Thacker on Wednesday at a drop-in retirement party held for her at the Richmond County Judicial Center.
Thacker officially retired on March 1 after 28-and-a-half years as an assistant district attorney and district court judge for District 16A, which includes Richmond, Anson, Scotland and Hoke counties.
Since then she’s been driving her daughter, Caroline, to her frequent ballet practices and “spending as much time with her as I can before she goes off to (the School of Science and Math).”
Courtroom C was packed with Thacker’s former judicial colleagues from surrounding counties, other government officials and friends and family to celebrate the end to what many agreed was a stellar career of public service.
“Thank you, from everybody here, for all that you’ve done,” said Chief District Court Judge Scott Brewer as Thacker stood, emotional, surrounded by witnesses to her talent as a judge. “I love you like a sister. You mean more to me than you know.”
Brewer said that Thacker had “threatened the life” of anyone who tried to make a big deal of her retirement with a party, but convinced her to attend with the promise that there wouldn’t be too many long speeches.
“I didn’t want everybody to make a big deal out of it — I did what I did because I love law and the people I serve,” Thacker said. “Doing the best job I could is the only validation I needed. As I’m here today, I’m glad they decided to twist my arm to get me here.”
Thacker said the proudest moments of her career were working with children and families, saying those cases “take so much out of you but give so much back.”
“Those children still touch my heart after all these years,” she said.
Brewer had a surprise up his sleeve: a proclamation from Gov. Roy Cooper naming Thacker to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the highest civilian honors the governor can give recognizing significant contributions to the community.
Sheriff James Clemmons congratulated Thacker, saying she was “an awesome lady, mother, wife and friend” and that she was “always a bright spot on the bench.”
Richmond County Clerk of Superior Court Vickie Daniel called Thacker a “great personal friend.”
“It was an honor to know her, work with her and she will be greatly missed,” Daniel said.
District Attorney Reece Saunders said he had known Thacker since she came to Rockingham and had tried cases against her and dealt with her in other capacities for years.
“I’m happy she’s able to retire and I hope she enjoys herself,” Saunders said.
She was also apparently known to give the best Christmas presents, according to fellow District Court Judge Michael Stone.
“I loved working with her,” said Brewer. “Whoever ends up replacing her has big shoes to fill.”
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]