For the last 17 years Teresa Furnish has worked quietly and diligently as a deputy clerk for now-retired Harrison County Circuit Court Clerk Kathy Kearns.
However, after Kearns’ retirement, Furnish stepped forward to take the state-mandated test for clerks. The test was last Tuesday, which is when she also learned that she passed the test.
“I thought I was prepared, but you never know,” Furnish said, noting that she brushed up for the test as chief deputy clerk even before studying for the clerk’s appointment.
Three days later she was taking the oaths to serve Kearns’ unexpired term.
Furnish will complete the six-year term, which began January 2013, before she has to be re-elected to the office.
She was hired in 1996 while Wanda Marsh was still clerk. Initially, she worked as the clerk for Harrison District Court. However, when Judge David Melcher started as Family Court Judge, Furnish began as clerk for family court. She continued in family court after Melcher’s retirement and Judge Barbara Paul’s election.
When former chief deputy clerk Connie Webber retired in August, Furnish assumed that post until her selection as clerk last week.
Rachel Northcutt, who is the secretary for Circuit Judge Jay Delaney, will be joining Furnish as chief deputy on Nov. 1.
Furnish said there have been a lot of changes over the last 17 years, not the least of which was moving from the old courthouse to the newly constructed Justice Center. There have also been changes in computer operations.
In fact, a new accounting system will be coming soon, she said.
Before joining the staff at the clerk’s office, Furnish worked with the city clerk’s office and the county water association as well as other part-time jobs.
Possibly her proudest role is that of mother and wife.
She and Jim Furnish have five children, Wilson, Mary Heimlich, Matthew, Neil and Kimberly. They also have nine grandchildren, ranging in ages from 3 to 13 years, Drew, Maria and Isaac Furnish, Calvin, Resa and Marissa Heimlich, Kaitlynn, Samantha and Keller Furnish.
She is also the daughter of Ann Wells and the late Don Wells.
Furnish said she is anxious to get reacquainted with some of the duties that were reassigned when she went to family court.
“I want to get my hands in everything,” Furnish said, noting, however, that her colleagues are hard-working individuals who will continue to help keep things running smoothly.
In addition to providing clerks for all three courts, district, circuit and family, the clerk’s office is also where fines and citations are paid, and where drivers’ testing is done.
Office hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. to noon.