50-year employment longest in Tville history
When Dixie Fincannon started working with the city of Thomasville in 1963, John F. Kennedy was president and gas cost 30 cents a gallon.
Nine presidents and $3 a gallon later, Fincannon still calls City Hall home.
City employees, many who were not even born when Fincannon started as a switchboard operator a half century ago, filed into the Ballpark Road Community Center Jan. 29 to congratulate Fincannon on 50 years of service. Fincannon is now the longest serving employee in Thomasville history.
"Its just been a wonderful experience," Fincannon said. "Time certainly has passed quickly. I don't see that I've changed that much. When you enjoy the people you're working for and the citizens of Thomasville, it's been quite easy."
Fincannon's city career started in January 1963, after the Wilkes County native graduated from Ashemore Business College. When interviewing for the switchboard operator position, Fincannon was told she was the 78th applicant to apply for the job. Peter Lydens, Thomasville's city manager in 1963, said hiring Fincannon proved to be an easy decision.
"It was no-brainer," said Lydens. "It was her vivaciousness. She was a very outgoing person and I was looking for someone who would be able to relate to the public."
Fincannon would spend the next decade serving as, according to current councilman and former fireman Raleigh York, "the voice of the city." In a time when every department except police ran off one frequency, York said Fincannon's voice could be heard all day long.
"She was definitely the voice of the city and now she's the example of a loyal employee for the city," York said. "When somebody has dedicated that many years to one job and serving the people here, they deserve some recognition."
In addition to her duties on the switchboard, Fincannon also served as secretary for the public works director, parks and recreation director, finance director and the fire chief. After 18 years of heavy multi-tasking, Fincannon took a position in the finance department where she now is the accounts payable supervisor. City Finance Director Tony Jarrett, who was all of 3 years old when Fincannon's career began, said her attention to detail was a great asset when it came to handling money.
"I've been fortunate to be surrounded by a lot of great employees," said Jarrett. "It's wonderful when you can add working with someone and be a friend too. She mingles well with people and makes new people feel comfortable and part of the team. She's been a blessing."
Mayor Joe Bennett knew Fincannon long before his arrival to City Hall 14 years ago. The two have been neighbors for nearly four decades and Bennett said Fincannon's historic achievement should be celebrated.
"She is quite a remarkable lady," Bennett said. "Fifty years is quite remarkable. She has gained many, many friends in the city over the years and this is quite an honor for her."
Only two people who were working for the city when Fincannon started still are alive today. She said seeing the Chair City landscape change over the years was difficult as furniture plants closed down and jobs slowly drifted away. One of her most vivid memories occurred on Nov. 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
"Everyone was in shock," said Fincannon. "I remember that we just couldn't believe what was happening. Nothing like that had ever been in our lifetimes. That was probably the biggest thing that has happened."
The celebration should not be mistaken for a retirement party. With 50 years under her belt, Fincannon, 70, is ready to add on to her record by working a few more.
"I'm not ready to give it up yet," Fincannon said. "I thank God that I've been fortunate enough to work for the city. With things today, I dare say anyone would stay at a job for 50 years. I know it sounds like a hum-drum life but I really and truly enjoy all of my employees."