Well-wishers crowded the Etowah County Commission Chambers Monday afternoon to celebrate Bobby Junkins’ years of service as probate judge.
Junkins will retire in January, when newly-elected officials take office. He was first elected probate judge in 1988, and has held the office since then. He ran when the late Lee Wofford decided not to run for re-election. Similarly, his decision to retire led to some well-qualified candidates for the job.
Scott Hassell was elected probate judge, and is slated to take office after Junkins’ last day, Jan. 14.
Junkins built a career serving the public before ever seeking the probate judge’s office. He was librarian at the Gadsden Public Library and served in the Alabama House of Representatives.
The probate judge’s office deals with tasks ranging from overseeing elections to issuing car tags, and if you need a license to get married or drive a car, it’s the probate judge’s office you turn to.
But as Junkins shook hands and handed out hugs to the many people he’s worked with over the years, he said the best part of his job always has been dealing with adoptions.
“I’ve had some 29-years-olds coming back to see me,” Junkins said, from adoptions when they were infants. He’s always taken his role in helping families seriously.
“Five out of six times, adoptions are done to keep a family together,” Junkins said. “That’s a wonderful thing.”
A number of the adoptions that have come through Etowah County involved Lifeline Adoptions, an Alabama-based agency that facilitates adoptions from people all over the country.
Junkins said he handled the adoption of former President Jimmy Carter’s grand-niece, through Lifeline, and the adoption of a child by a Chicago Cubs right fielder.
And Junkins has been involved in adoptions that made many local families complete.
Each, he said, has been an honor.