Two long-time Northumberland County officials organized a surprise party for the county’s longest-serving official last week.
Commissioner of the Revenue Todd Thomas, and Registrar Kathy Davenport threw the party for Treasurer Ellen Kirby on the 40th anniversary of the start of her county service. Kirby started as a deputy treasurer Aug. 15, 1978. A little more than a year later, she was elected Treasurer. She’s held the post ever since.
When she was elected at the age of 22, Kirby was the youngest elected Treasurer in the state, she recalled. Now, she is the third most senior Treasurer in the Commonwealth and has served as president of the Virginia Treasurer’s Association.
Kirby grew up traveling around the world with her father and his family as he worked as a civilian for the U.S. Army. When he retired to Reedville, she came with him in time to graduate from Northumberland High School. She was only 16 at the time and her father was worried about her going off to college at such a young age, so she started at Rappahannock Community College, she recalled Friday. Eventually, she transferred to the University of Virginia and earned a bachelor’s degree in English, later, while serving as Treasurer, she earned a master’s in public administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. “But, that took seven years,” she noted.
Following graduation, John Harding suggested she apply for a deputy treasurer’s position in Treasurer Sally Shackleford’s office. She was hired and the next year Shackleford retired and Kirby ran for and won the top slot. She has run a total of 10 times and only had opposition three times.
At the surprise party, Kirby told the guests that things have certainly changed in the Treasurer’s office. Back then; the office had “one electric typewriter and I didn’t get to use it.” Her first job was typing up a report for the Board of Supervisors. It was 10 pages long on legal paper. She had to make an original and seven copies on onionskin paper using carbon paper and she wasn’t a good typist. It was misery, but she got it done.
For the full article pick up a copy of this weeks Northumberland Echo 8/22/18