After 12 years of serving as chief tax appraiser of McDuffie County, Katherine Perry is leaving for a similar position in neighboring Jefferson County.
Mrs. Perry, who lives just six miles southwest of Louisville, has been commuting round-trip 82 miles a day for the past dozen years to work in Thomson. During that time, she estimated that she has logged 240,000 miles, gone through several vehicles and even had some accidents involving deer.
She tendered her resignation letter to members of the McDuffie County Tax Assessor's Board during a special called meeting Oct. 21.
She recently was hired by the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners to become the new chief tax appraiser. Mrs. Perry, who previously worked in the tax appraiser's office there for 17 years, will assume her new post Dec. 1. She will be replacing George Rachels, who has held the position of chief tax appraiser for several years.
"I'm going to go back to my old antique desk," laughed Mrs. Perry during an interview Friday. "It's going to be great to be just six miles from my new job instead of having to drive to work so far every day."
In her resignation letter, she wrote: "McDuffie County is a very good place to work. I am especially grateful for the support of the Board of Assessors during my time here. Working with this staff has been an incredibly wonderful experience. The (McDuffie County) Board of Commissioners has also been very supportive."
Bob Ballard, the vice chairman of the McDuffie County Board of Tax Assessors, told Mrs. Perry that it was with deep regret that he and board member Tommy Gantt accepted her resignation.
Ruby Harbin, the board chairwoman, was out of town but had been informed of Mrs. Perry's decision through e-mail.
"She has brought this office up to a professional level that we're all proud of," Mr. Ballard said. "We're going to miss Katherine. She's been a real asset to this office and this county."
Mrs. Perry's job will be advertised, with employees already on staff being considered for it provided they are qualified, Mr. Ballard added.
"I'm going to miss this staff and a lot of the people that I've gotten to know here in McDuffie County over the years," Mrs. Perry said. "This staff has been wonderful to work with, and I'm going to miss them."
At the same time, she pointed out that she looks forward to working with her new staff in Jefferson County.
"It's like going back home for me in a lot of ways," Mrs. Perry explained.
She was born in the old Jefferson County hospital, which now serves as Louisville City Hall. When she turned 3, her family moved to Essington, Pa. Her father, the late George Landrum Sr., worked with Atlantic Refinery Co. at the time.
"He sailed on a ship, transporting petroleum out in the ocean," Mrs. Perry recalled. Her mother, Helen Landrum, resides in Stapleton and is a candidate for town council there at the age of 82.
"She says she can do the job, and I believe her," Mrs. Perry said.
Just before she turned 17, her family moved back to Jefferson County.
"We lived just outside of Wrens," Mrs. Perry said, adding that she graduated from Wrens High School in 1968.
The county tax assessor's office also is the place where she started as a temporary worker under the federally funded Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. She rose all the way to the top position -- the post she is preparing to fill again.
After her first stint in Jefferson County -- spanning 17 years -- Mrs. Perry was recruited by officials with the Richmond County Board of Tax Assessors. She left Jefferson County and took the job in Richmond County, where she worked for seven years.
She later accepted the job as chief tax appraiser in McDuffie County.
"I've learned a lot of things about this job over the years -- a lot of dos and don'ts," Mrs. Perry said.
She is married to Charles Perry, and they each have grown children and grandchildren from previous marriages. Mr. Perry is retired from the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Mrs. Perry enjoys reading, drawing, painting and sculpturing with clay.
"I really like drawing and working with clay," Mrs. Perry said. "It's a lot of fun to see what you can make out of clay."