Most any grandmother would tell you that spending time with her grandchildren is a blessing. And for Gayle Biggerstaff, the county treasurer, her decision to retire is largely based on that reasoning.
On her final day of work on Feb. 28, 2013, Biggerstaff will have served the county for twenty-six years and two months. She started working as the county treasurer on Jan. 1, 1987.
What she does
A Sweetwater native, Biggerstaff grew up and attended the local schools before moving away for a short time. Following her three years of college, she came back home and worked at the Texas Bank and Trust in the trust department.
Her other work at several banks in almost every department caught the attention of one person: the previous county treasurer. Mrs. Naurvelle Rogers went to Biggerstaff, informed her that she was retiring, and told Biggerstaff to run for the position.
Not only was Rogers a county employee but a family friend, as Biggerstaff's mother, Mildred B. Shuff, served as the county clerk from 1957 to 1978. Shuff and Rogers worked together, as Biggerstaff recollected how she "grew up" in the old courthouse.
Biggerstaff won over the voters — in which she says she is grateful for their support, and took on the duties of what she calls being "the banker of the county."
As all of the county funds go through her office, the additional fees and fines collected by other county offices are brought to Biggerstaff as well as the corresponding reports. Everything is then entered into the general ledger and she banks all of the money.
In addition, Biggerstaff works on statements and quarterly investments, writes jury checks as needed, and balances and invests money. She also keeps up with state fees and remits them quarterly to the State Comptroller.
Biggerstaff notes that the biggest change that took place in almost three decades of work was the technology. The office transitioned from typewriters to computers for writing checks and receipts, as well as completing state and federal reports online.
What she learned
Her career in banking was very beneficial to her position, yet Biggerstaff knows she learned much more throughout her work as treasurer. She hopes to take many of these lessons with her as she moves to the next chapter of her life.
By working with a wide variety of people — elected officials, county employees and the general public, she has developed understanding, patience and the ability to listen to all perspectives. Additionally, Biggerstaff has seen the importance of cooperative work, knowing that it takes everyone working, listening and learning together.
And now as she takes off to a new life-venture, Biggerstaff hopes that the citizens know that she did her best in her work with the funds of the county. She hopes to be remembered as a professional worker and also as someone who enjoyed giving back to her community.
Biggerstaff has served as an Ambassador to the Sweetwater Chamber of Commerce and volunteered her time working at the local football games as well. Furthermore, she worked and helped at the church she attends, First Presbyterian Church in Sweetwater, as her great-grandparents were charter members of the church.
With deep family roots in the community and a "great church family," Biggerstaff says that Sweetwater will always be home. She has made many good memories here, establishing strong friendships with her co-workers in the courthouse.
Biggerstaff added that she has enjoyed working with people who are dedicated in their work with the financial and business affairs within the county. She calls it an "honor and privilege" to serve in her role and will miss everyone in the building.
What awaits her
But as thankful as she is to have had this job, Biggerstaff is looking forward to the next step. She plans on moving to Midland to be closer to her family, even though the housing market is scarce due to the recent oil boom.
This new opportunity will allow her to babysit her seven-month-old granddaughter Susannah Biggerstaff, while also spending more time with her son and daughter-in-law.
Biggerstaff's son, Rhett, who is a 1996 graduate of Sweetwater High School and a 2001 graduate of Texas Tech University with a business degree. He currently works as a procurement specialist at Halliburton in Midland.
Rhett's wife, Rachel, grew up in Midland but graduated from McMurry University with a music degree. She is the associate music minister at the church they attend in Midland, St. Luke's United Methodist Church.
With Biggerstaff retiring, the county commissioners will have to appoint a person to fill the rest of her unexpired term, which will end on Dec. 31, 2014. Should the appointee decide to continue working as treasurer, the appointee would need to run for the office.