Carol Thompson, who just retired after a 34-year career with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Eastern District of Texas, said her favorite job there was serving as a courtroom deputy for various judges.
“It was like going to a play every day — every case had its elements and a plot — divorce, child custody, arson,” she said. Ms. Thompson, 61, said she worked under three different judges; Judge C. Houston Abel, Judge Joe D. Huffstutler, and current Judge Bill Parker. Abel and Huffstutler are now deceased.
Her other jobs throughout the years included keeping a calendar for the judge, scheduling cases and taking notes of legal proceedings. When Ms. Thompson retired earlier this week, she worked as a human resources representative.
The biggest change she saw was the introduction of automation into the office. “When we first started, we worked on manual typewriters ... and we kept the cases on index cards in a wooden case. Now everything is computerized,” she said.
Two of her longtime friends talked earlier in the week about how much they enjoyed working with Ms. Thompson. Jeanelle Maland, who came to work in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 1995, said she worked with Ms. Thompson for more than 16 years and that they became good friends. For two years, Ms. Thompson was her supervisor, and for 14 years, they were peers.
“We will really miss her — she has been the best source of historical information about the courts that we have,” Ms. Maland said.
Kim Dixon, who will replace Ms. Maland in human resources, said her friend is a sensitive person who “has never had a bad word to say about anyone.” She added that Ms. Thompson’s departure will be a great loss for the court.
Ms. Thompson said she is looking forward to some unstructured time during her retirement. “I don’t want a plan, I want it to be a mystery and I want to fly by the seat of my pants,” she said. Ms. Thompson likes to cook, bake and read.
She wants to be more active in volunteer work and to continue working with Compassionate Friends, an organization for people grieving the death of a child. Ms. Thompson lost her only biological child, Sara, who died in a hit-and-run accident in 2005.
But she said remains close to her husband’s two “wonderful daughters and their six children.”
Ms. Thompson also worked as a reporter for the Tyler Morning Telegraph from 1973 to 1975, where she covered federal courts and the various chambers of commerce for different towns. She met her husband, fellow reporter Ted Thompson, at the newspaper. He passed away in 2008.
She remembered her newsroom days as “a lot of fun,” with parties and “a room full of cigarette smoke and men with gross coffee cups.”
“I still have printers’ ink in my blood,” said Ms. Thompson, who hopes to do some freelance writing now that she is retired.
She said she knew it was her time to retire from the court. “Life changes and you have to know when it’s time to change and you can’t look back,” she said.