DOBSON, N.C. — At first glance, no one would suspect that Carroll County native Rebecca “Becky” Brendle is a hardcore football fan.
She is seated for an interview at the Surry County (N.C.) court headquarters in Dobson, where the walls of her tidy office are adorned with tasteful artwork, and a large bookshelf containing law volumes with green covers dominates one side of the room. The institutional-like setting contains no team banners or autographed photos of players.
The component of every modern workplace — a computer — is by her side and Brendle, 36, is discussing her new job as clerk of court, which she had begun only a few weeks before.
It soon becomes clear that Brendle is a dedicated public servant, having worked in the court office for more than 10 years and previously serving as assistant clerk. Also readily apparent is her eagerness to carry on the legacy of predecessor Pam Marion, who recently retired as clerk of court after a decade in the position and a 37-year career in the office overall.
Meanwhile, Brendle’s professional attire and businesslike approach to her work would be equally at home on Wall Street as it is at the courthouse in Dobson.
This coincides with the critical nature surrounding the clerk of court’s role. That individual is responsible for all daily court operations, not only including Superior and District Court sessions, but management of records, personnel, fiscal matters and facilities.
With the newspaper interview naturally covering topics related to her recently attained leadership position, it also touches on Brendle’s outside interests and hobbies.
Which produces the revelation that one of Becky Brendle’s favorite things to do while away from a sometimes-stressful job is sitting in the stands at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, screaming at the top of her lungs for the Carolina Panthers.
“I’m not a fair-weather fan,” Brendle explained, her eyes lighting up the minute the subject of football is broached. Not only is she a Panthers season ticket holder, but sometimes will even journey to other NFL cities for their away games and confront hostile fans there on occasion.
Brendle certainly is well-versed on local court functions. Yet she also possesses such an in-depth knowledge of football players and teams, both past and present, that one would expect her to begin reciting Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s passing statistics at any moment.
Concern For Public
Though many of her autumn Sundays are filled with tailgating and watching football games, it’s all serious business when Becky Brendle is on the job in Dobson.
She has served as clerk of court since Jan. 1, which came in the aftermath of Marion, 56, announcing her retirement in November.
“I had a great deal of respect and admiration for Pam — I think she was a perfect example of what a clerk should be,” Brendle said of her former boss. “She was a very hands-on clerk.”
Multiple candidates were considered as the replacement for Marion, an elected official with two years remaining in her present term. Brendle subsequently was appointed to the position by Judge Moses Massey, senior resident Superior Court judge for District 17-B, made up of Surry and Stokes counties.
Brendle will face re-election in 2014 for a full four-year term and hopes to remain clerk for a long time.
Not many people would relish having a job that could be whisked away with changing political winds not unlike an errant punt on a breezy day, but Brendle likes the “people” element of her work. “I enjoy dealing with the public.”
The clerk of court office encompasses many areas — some of which deal with life’s darker aspects. Along with criminal and civil court cases, wills and estates, child-custody situations, domestic-violence protection orders, collection and disbursement of court-ordered child-support payments, small claims matters, divorces and more are handled there.
Before taking her present job, Brendle’s responsibilities mainly included the areas of estates and child support, which require a certain sensitivity since in the case of estates a court employee is interacting with those who recently lost loved ones.
A need for understanding also has become greater due to the economic downtown of recent years, particular regarding the accompanying spike in local housing foreclosures — which also come through the clerk’s office. “A lot of people losing their home” is one part of her job that has been painful for Brendle, who keeps that in mind with dealing with the economy’s victims.
“You are there for people at a difficult time,” she said.
Staff Provides Support
Just as a quarterback can’t function without a good offensive line, receivers and running backs, Becky Brendle is fortunate to be surrounded by quality personnel in the clerk’s office.
“I have a very hardworking and dedicated staff that is very good with the public,” Brendle said of the 22 people she supervises, who include folks with many years of experience.
In addition to serving the public in a variety of ways, the staff must maintain a good working relationship with judges, lawyers, the district attorney’s office, law enforcement agencies and others.
As the administrative arm of court operations, judges depend on the clerk’s office to provide them with all the necessary documents and filings for all cases they hear. In addition, attorneys must file all pleadings and motions with the office and many parties rely on the staff for assistance in understanding the processes involved in having matters adjudicated.
“It’s definitely a busy place here most of the time,” Brendle said.
Just as a quarterback is a vocal team leader, the new clerk believes her “outgoing, gregarious personality” translates well to the office with a varied clientele and demands.
Along with overseeing court functions, she continues to handle her previous responsibilities involving estates and special proceedings. “I’m now kind of wearing two hats.”
Before working in the clerk’s office, Brendle was employed by the Surry County Tax Department for four years and earlier held a position at a North Carolina license plate facility.
Although Brendle has resided in the Dobson area for 16 years, she hails from the Fancy Gap community of Carroll County.
The former Rebecca Tilley grew up in a family that also included a sister.
Brendle’s interest in sports included playing volleyball at Carroll County High School, from which she graduated in the mid-1990s.
As for her rabid interest in football, one might automatically assume that it sprang from her father Ricky, a hunting enthusiast, but a man not really interested in the gridiron. It was actually Lynn Tilley, a longtime fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who spawned that in her daughter.
As a North Carolina resident, Brendle has loyally pulled for the home team through thick and thin, and is happy that the Panthers’ fortunes appear to be on the upswing after several lackluster seasons.
Her fondness for sports further encompasses the collegiate level. “I’ve always liked Wake Forest,” Brendle said, citing some of the individuals that school has produced such as Chris Paul and Tim Duncan, now stars in the National Basketball Association.
While Brendle listed her No. 1 joy as spending time with her daughters Erin, 7, and Ava, 5, she additionally professed a love for reading as well as shopping. And along with attending Panthers games, another athletic-oriented pursuit involves jogging to stay in shape, sometimes utilizing Mount Airy’s greenway system with her sister who lives here.
Mainly, however, Becky Brendle is focused on making sure Surry County’s court operations run smoothly as possible and in a cost-effective manner.
“I’m just very thankful to have had the opportunity to become clerk,” she said.