Wadesboro Town Manager John Witherspoon will leave the position he has held for nine years on June 29.
“I didn’t intend to stay but I did,” he said at the June 4 Town Council meeting, when he announced his retirement. He was hired to fix the town’s deficits in the general, water and sewer funds.
He has cited the straightening of “the curve” on U.S. 74, work on what he called a “neglected” water and sewer system, as well as the construction of Little Park as some of his proudest accomplishments in his tenure as town manager.
Witherspoon, 75, had a long career in public service before coming to Wadesboro. He worked for the National Association of Counties in Washington, D.C., was budget director for Anne Arundel County in Maryland and served as Cabarrus County Manager for five years and Guilford County Manager for 22 years.
“We’ve made a lot of nice friends here in town,” he said. “We’ve enjoyed our stay.” He does not know if he and his wife will remain in Anson.
County Manager Lawrence Gatewood has a unique perspective on Witherspoon. Gatewood was on the Town Council for three years from 2008-2011 and now has a job that Witherspoon has held elsewhere for decades.
Gatewood said Witherspoon was a joy to work with and “very well-informed, probably based on his years of experience.” The two meet once a month to talk.
Witherspoon gave him four books to read to prepare for the job he now holds: “Parliamentary Procedure at a Glance,” “Rules of Procedure for the Board of County Commissioners,” “Open Meetings and Local Government in North Carolina,” and “County Government in North Carolina.”
“Whoever replaces him has big shoes to fill,” Gatewood said.
Gatewood and Town Clerk Nancy Huntley echoed each other when they described working with Witherspoon. Each described him as working quietly behind the scenes but effectively. Huntley said he made his work seem effortless even though she knew how much time and thought went into it.
“In my opinion he’s the best city manager we’ve ever had,” she said. In her time as clerk since 1964, she has worked with four of his predecessors. “I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful person to work for.”
She was emotional about his departure and said she has looked forward to working with him every day.
Lynn Horton, a former mayor and town councilwoman, praised him at the June 4 meeting, calling him a “leader,” “trustworthy” and saying that his “integrity was beyond reproach.”
Mayor Bill Thacker said the town was still early in the process of selecting a replacement. He did not know if an interim town manager would be in place in time for the council’s meeting in July.