There was standing room only in the Lauderdale County Justice courtroom as Judge Gerald Wayne Thompson celebrated his retirement Thursday.
After 32 years of service, Thompson is putting away his robe and passing the torch to his successor, Buck Roberts.
“I cannot take his place,” said Roberts. “Thompson has been a lifelong friend, great man, father and judge. He’s well respected and knowledgeable of the job.”
“I’ve seen a lot,” Thompson said. “It was a rewarding experience and an honor to represent my district.”
Looking back on his time as a justice court judge, Thompson says he learned that everyone deserves their day in court.
“Rich, poor, black, white, whatever, look at everybody the same and treat everybody equal,” said Thomson.
He’s also grateful for the people who supported him through the years.
“I had good support from a core base of about 2,500 voters,” said Thompson.
The judge also made many friends along the way.
“I have been working with Judge Thompson for 28 years," said Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson. "He has been such a true server to the public.”
“One of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and very fair,” said Judge William “Tony” Boykin of
Oktibbeha County. “He’s going to be missed a lot.”
Despite how fondly he recalls the connections he made with law enforcement in the county, Thompson does have one regret.
“My only regret is that (my mother) couldn’t see me retire,” said Thompson.
In the beginning of his career, Thompson said his mother wasn’t very supportive of him becoming a judge, so it was important for him to think of her as he retires.
“I made an oath to her that I’d leave that office the way I went in,” said Thompson.
Looking forward to the future, Thomson plans to take some time off, but has plenty of things to do.
“I plan to get involved,” he said. “I’m 77 years old, I gotta pace myself.”