By CHRIS AGEE
Colleagues, friends and family packed the 29th Judicial District Courtroom Friday to wish Judge Jerry Ray a happy retirement.
The general public was invited to the reception, which included comments from those who worked closest to Ray during his 12 years as district judge.
Following several speakers and gift presentations, District Attorney Mike Burns spoke directly to Ray, expressing a fondness for his time on the bench.
"I don't have a plaque or a gift to give you," he said, "but what I have to give you is my eternal thanks as a member of the bar for making me a better lawyer and making me a better person."
In preparation of the event, county commissioners approved a proclamation naming Friday "Judge Jerry D. Ray Day," and Ray used the opportunity to share some memories from his career.
"I've been practicing law for 40 years," he said. "I've been here at the courthouse working for you for 20 of those. You can't have the kind of career I've enjoyed without a host of people."
Ray named a number of important support staff members and his wife, Bonnie, who helped and encouraged him along the way.
He recalled the event that steered his career path toward law. After accepting a physically demanding summer job during high school, Ray said he soon said to himself, "I'm going to college. I'm going to get a degree and be a professional person. I quit slinging that sledgehammer and went to college."
He said his initial intent was to become a doctor, but he struggled with one particular subject in college.
"I was in pre-med and I wanted to be a doctor and they had this darn silly rule," he said. "In order to be a doctor in the state of Texas, you have to pass organic chemistry."