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After 44 years in Spotsylvania County's voter registration office, Bessie Morefield retires for the second time
Morefield (going over files in her office before retiring on Wednesday) has 12 presidential elections under her belt.
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By CATHY DYSON
When Bessie Ann Morefield retired the first time, she told
She'd been registrar for 29 years and still had 18 months left on her term. She wanted to fulfill her promise to the county.
Morefield did that--and then some.
The 83-year-old turned her 18-month obligation into an additional 15 years of service as a part-time assistant registrar. She retired the second time this week.
"I'm glad to be walking out now so that I don't have the stress, but to step down after this long a time," she said, tears filling her eyes, "it's a big adjustment."
Morefield didn't just watch the roll of registered voters climb from 5,600 in 1968 to almost 84,000 in 2013. She led the county office through its evolution from paper ballots counted by hand to ones recorded electronically with the touch of a screen.
As she kept up with technology--including computerized systems that replaced old ledger books--she also became a walking reference about the county where she was born and raised.
"The history that she carries around in her head is phenomenal," said Ann Kidd, an assistant registrar. "I can always go to Bessie and ask her a question about anything."
At a recent meeting of the county's electoral board, a question came up about a past event. When Morefield answered it, a board member joked she should remember because she's been around since Gov. Alexander Spotswood. That's the person the county was named after--in 1720.
"I said, 'It's time for me to go if you're going to start associating me with Gov. Spotswood,'" Morefield said.
She doesn't go that far back, but Morefield was appointed to the job by a man born in the early days of the 20th century.
That was the late Judge S. Bernard Coleman, a former senator and circuit court judge. Morefield had worked in his law firm, and when the county needed a registrar--after its first appointee left a few months later--Coleman suggested Morefield.
INSPIRATION is an