The Transylvania Times -

Perry Retires After 43 Years With City - Brevard, NC


December 7, 2017

Matt McGregor

Desiree Perry (in green jacket) poses with the Brevard City Council, Brevard Mayor Jimmy Harris, City Attorney Mike Pratt and City Manager Jim Fatland during Monday's council meeting.

With her retirement, Desiree Perry bids a fond farewell to a 43-year career in city government.

"I was hired in 1975, and I've seen a lot of changes in Brevard," said Perry, who ended her career with the city as its clerk. "I've loved what I do, and I've been blessed to work with a lot of really good folks."

Throughout the years, Perry said her coworkers have become like family.

"I've really bonded with them," Perry said.

Perry and her husband, Alan, moved to Brevard in 1974 from Bradenton, Fla.

"The city had just recently set up the Building Inspections Department, so they hired me as secretary to set up the record-keeping system," Perry said.

Perry created permit forms, tracked inspections and revenue received, and took minutes for boards and committees.

"I worked in the office throughout the day and issued permits and maintained records while the inspectors were in the field making inspections," Perry said. "That was the beginning of the Inspections Department, and I worked there for several years. It was a good fit."

Eventually, she was certified as a code enforcement officer, and she worked in the city's Planning Department.

"I stayed in the Planning Department until City Clerk Glenda Sansosti retired," she said. "Then, the city manager at the time, Joe Moore, offered me the position of interim city clerk, and then he selected me as clerk," Perry said.

Perry started in the position in January of 2010.

She got her certified municipal clerk certification in 2013 and set her sights on the next level, the master municipal clerk (MMC) certification, a more advanced designation, which teaches participants to perform more extensive municipal tasks that certifies the clerk on a national, and, in some countries, an international level.

"Having my CMC was a big step and that's specific to our state, and the MMC certifies me throughout the U.S. and in some other countries," Perry said. "It's not like I'm looking for employment elsewhere. I just love to learn."

Working with the different planning directors and inspectors, Perry said, gave her the opportunity to do just that.

"Moving into the clerk's office and having such a wide variety of experience from working in planning and zoning, then adding the other departments, such as police, fire and public works, gave me an appreciation for all the different sections of government," Perry said. "I have always loved learning, and I hope to continue that after I retire."

Perry said her job gave her a "great appreciation" for government.

"Having worked with many city council members, I got to see different perspectives, and realize that there is a lot of thought, energy and care that goes into decisions," Perry said. "It may not appear that way to some, but what I have seen is staff working closely together, trying to meet that balance of what the community wants, and what can be done within the perimeters of what is best."

Retiring, Perry said, was a hard decision to make.

"But it's time, and I would like to devote more time to family," Perry said. "And while we are in good health, Alan and I would like to get out and travel more, which I haven't been able to do, because a clerk's job requires 40-plus hours."

Perry and Alan, to whom she's been married for 45 years, have gone on several mission trips with the nonprofit organization Walking God's Trail, of which Alan is president.

"We go to unreachable, remote areas in Third World countries, and trek to villages that are hard to reach and work with the communities there," Perry said. "And as long as our health allows, we'd like to keep doing that."

In her travels, she said she's always ready to return home to Brevard.

"It's a special place, and we put a lot of effort and consideration into this community," Perry said. "It's more strategic than one would think, and having been in other downtowns in other cities, I'm partial to ours because the downtown business owners work hard to make it nice."

Aside from traveling, Perry said, after retirement, she'd like to take up some hobbies, such as gardening and cooking.

"When you work full time, you find yourself cooking the same stuff, so I'd like to do more of a variety," Perry said.

And as far as gardening, Perry said she'd like to try her hand at keeping a plant alive.

"If I can keep it alive, I'll be happy, and if I can keep it alive and it flourishes, I'll be even happier," Perry said.

At Brevard City Council's Monday meeting, Perry administered the oath of office of city clerk to Jill Murray, both with tears in their eyes.

"I'm saying goodbye to a big chapter in my life," Perry said.

But she wasn't done yet.

Just before the meeting, she found out she was nine points away from finally receiving her MMC.

"I'm not a huge goal person," Perry said. "I mean, we all set little goals, but this was one huge goal I had set for myself, and that was why it was hard to learn I didn't get it, and I didn't expect that before the meeting."

Perry said she thought she was going to be able to announce that she had gotten certified, but it didn't work out that way.

At the meeting, Councilman Mac Morrow made a motion to add the completion of the course, which would include her attendance at a three-day conference, where she would get eight of those points, to her requirement package, which was unanimously approved by council.

"It just shows her dedication," said Mayor Jimmy Harris. "We thank her for all she's done."

In reflection on saying goodbye, Perry said she always loved paperwork and grew up wanting to work in an office.

"This was my career path by choice, and it's been a good one," Perry said.


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