“Life is much better when you serve others,” advised Rick Lewis. “If you sit around and worry about your own problems and your own issues, it takes up too much of your energy. If you go out and find something to do to help others, that brings you a great sense of peace and accomplishment. A lot of times, it makes your problems seem much less severe.”
Rick Lewis cares about everyone he meets and wants to be able to do whatever he can to help others. Clarke County is very dear to him since he was born and raised here.
“I was born here in Clarke County at the Quitman Hospital,” recalled Rick. “On my first day in the world, my brother, Mickey Lewis, told the nurses that he would not leave until they got the baby to stop crying. Of course, in those days medicine was quite different. They gave me three little drops of whiskey, and I went right to sleep. My brother was happy, so he went home. My brother was looking out for me then and still is today.”
While growing up, he made some great memories while in school. In fact, some of his most memorable experiences are things that the school may not have realized were so important to the children.
“When I was in the lower elementary at Quitman, we would always have our recess time where we could go out and play on the playground and have fun. Every so often, we got to go over to the little park behind the First United Methodist Church and play on all the swings and slides there,” remembered Rick. “They would line us up, and on that day we would get a popsicle. Then the teachers would very carefully walk us across the street. We just had so much fun playing on the monkey bars, swings, and slide. It was just something I’ve always remembered.”
By the time he graduated high school, Rick decided to continue his education, and his independent and curious nature eventually allowed him to leave for a bigger city.
“I went to college at Meridian Junior College. After college, I moved away to Atlanta for 23 years,” stated Rick. “I continued my education over there at Georgia State University. I worked several corporate jobs over there and had a very good life.”
Although he loved his life in Atlanta, a tragedy caused Rick to reassess where he wanted to live. He eventually decided that it was time for another change.
“When I was in my late 50s, my mother passed away. When it came time to sell her house in Stonewall, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it because it was my last connection with Clarke County,” explained Rick. “By that time, the excitement and busy pace of the big city didn’t hold the attraction that it once did when I was younger. I decided to move back here, and I moved back in 2005 right after Katrina.”
When he first moved back, he found a job doing something that related to his interests. His strong work ethic and determination quickly allowed him to climb the work ladder once he started.
“I moved into my mother’s house and worked at Books a Million for about a year and a half. I love to read, and I’m a very avid reader. That was one of the reasons I got the job at Books a Million. I thought it would be perfect working at a bookstore,” declared Rick. “Unfortunately, I very quickly worked up to a manager’s position, and then I was working 40 to 50 hours a week. That was a nice job, but it was just too many hours of manager and driving distance.”
Although he still loved the books and bookstore, Rick began to search for another job that would be closer to home and wouldn’t be quite as demanding as the manager hours he had become accustomed to. He was blessed to find the job that most of Clarke County now recognizes him from.
“When Mrs. Hope took over the tax collector position, she was looking for a field appraiser. I went down and applied for that and was very happy that she hired me. I did that for a couple of years, and then I moved into an office position. That was a good place for me,” expressed Rick. “It was a joy to interact with the people of Clarke County. I was able to reconnect with a lot of my old school friends and other people that I’d known and hadn’t seen in 40 years. A lot of times I only knew them by their name because they didn’t look the same as they did in high school, and neither did I.”
After a very fulfilling job working for the tax collector, Rick decided the time had come to retire. On March 31, 2021, he officially retired and was sent away with a party and a very nice plaque for his years of service there. He may have already retired, but Rick can’t help but look back on his job at the courthouse with fondness.
“I worked for 13 years under Mrs. Herrington, and I was very grateful that she gave me the opportunity to work there. It was a great job,” said Rick. “I loved interacting with the people and helping them through the maze of paperwork and procedure that is involved in tags, taxes, titles, and fees. It was a very rewarding job.”
Now that he has retired, Rick plans to do a variety of things: reignite hobbies that he hasn’t been able to do for a long time and travel.
“Now, I plan to just enjoy life. It’ll be nice to have days where I can plan whatever I want to do and use my time to further my own interests. I plan to get into gardening again. My mother used to have a yard that the whole community would come to see. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the initiative to do that much gardening in the last few years. I want to get back into gardening,” explained Rick. “I want to do some travel. I’m planning a trip towards the end of the year going cross country on a sleeper train. I love trains, but I’ve never done a sleeper train.”
He is still searching for different ways to bless others. He may not be able to help others at the courthouse when it comes to their taxes anymore, but he is looking at how to give his time to helping other organizations that he hasn’t been able to volunteer at in the past.
“I have four dogs and seven cats and love my animals. I would love to get involved in something to do with animal rescue,” declared Rick. “I will probably volunteer some at Creature Comforts and get involved with animal rescue. I haven’t had the chance to volunteer there before, but I have supported them all along every chance I get. Now, I have the time that I can go down there and actually give my time.”
His involvement in the community also extends to his church. He has a very strong faith and loves to participate in church activities. He has a goal to further his experience in the church so that he can help even more people.
“I am a member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Enterprise, and that’s a very small but very loving congregation. Not only did they embrace me, but they gave me an opportunity to participate. I’m now the Lay Eucharistic Minister, so when the priestess from Hattiesburg is not there, I’m responsible for leading the service and giving the sermon and providing Eucharist. The 13 years I spent serving the county and the courthouse I plan to continue serving through my church and my affiliation there,” stated Rick. “I do plan to continue my education in the church, probably as a lay minister or possibly even as a deacon in the church. Once you had to go all the way to Tennessee for the training for that, but now they have a program out of Jackson that you can do online. I’m not interested in moving at this point in my life, so that would be perfect. I could do it online and still receive those awards. I am looking to advance further in my church work.”
He may have retired, but Rick is still very active in his community. No matter what happens, he intends to continue to live his life searching for a way to help and serve others while enjoying his time as a retired man.
Congratulations, Rick, on your retirement. Enjoy!