leaves many memories
as Jefferson County Recorder
was a two-term Treasurer
and two-term county recorder
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(January 2009) By When Bob Clapp talks about his
friend, retiring Jefferson County Recorder Mary Frances OConnor,
he cant help holding back the compliments. And with her recent
retirement, he strongly believes she is deserving of recognition for
her successful campaigns and years of service as an elected official.
When she runs for office she cant be beat, he says,
by Cristina Evans
Frances OConnor has spent
32 years as an elected official serving
the people of Jefferson County, Ind.
Clapp characterizes OConnor as a true public
servant... Its going to be hard to replace someone like her.
OConnor, 78, of Madison, Ind., began serving as an elected official
in 1977 in the position of Treasurer. That was the beginning of
a long, fruitful and enjoyable job, she says. Her retirement comes
after working for 32 years in the Jefferson County Courthouse, having
been elected to two terms as Treasurer and two terms as Recorder.
The voters have been very kind to me, OConnor says
of her successful runs for office. Dec. 31 was her final day in office.
Leigh Koehler was elected last November to replace her as Recorder.
The Recorder oversees an assortment of official records, including mortgages,
deeds, military discharges and liens. In addition to these typical documents,
sometimes more unusual items are brought in to be recorded.
OConnor recalls that years ago, a gentleman had a lottery ticket
recorded, just in case it turned out to to be a winner. Records in the
office go back to 1811 and provide the town with much historical information.
During her years at the courthouse, OConnor believes that the
biggest change she has seen came in the use of technology. In
the olden days it was paper imported from England, a quill and a dip
pen, she says of the composition of records.
Typewriters came next, then everything moved to computers. This progression
has benefits, but has come at a cost. Computers are helpful, but
if the system is down you can do nothing. When records are handwritten,
you can keep going, she notes.
OConnors work in the courthouse has been something of a
family affair. OConnors daughter, Molly OConnor, has
served as First Deputy Recorder for the past eight years and previously
worked with her mother in the Treasurers Office. Molly describes
working with her mother as enjoyable, But it didnt inspire
me to go into politics. Mom and Dad were the political junkies,
she says with a laugh. Her father, the late John Ready OConnor,
served two terms as Jefferson County Prosecutor.
OConnors time in office has been defined by her desire and
ability to help people. Molly OConnor attributes much of her mothers
success to the fact that no matter what party anyone was from,
she helped people with what they needed.
Marilyn Birge, Second Deputy Recorder, echoes this appraisal, saying
OConnor tries to help anyone who comes in, she goes out
of her way to help them. Birge says that OConnor has the
knowledge needed to assist people who came into the office with questions,
and if she did not know the answers herself, she knew where to find
Clapp agrees, saying, Shes just there to help. You walk
in that door, and she would smile at you.
This dedication to the public is reflected in the advice OConnor
has for the next Recorder: You are a public servant, so be as
helpful as possible to everyone who comes through the door.
Now that OConnor is retiring, she hopes to have time to attend
to some of the records of her own life. I have neglected a lot
of things at my house, she says with a smile. She plans to go
through boxes of letters.
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