After more than 16 years of serving the city of Purvis as city clerk, Sheila Speights is rocking ’n’ rolling into retirement bliss. Speights loves God, her community and Elvis Presley, in that order. Speights retired this summer, and was using her vacation days before officially leaving the building. She said she does not have any specific plans for her retirement.
“Monday morning, I am leaving, going to Graceland (the historic home of Presley). My sister and I are taking a trip,” she said.
The clerk filled her office with photos and other mementos of Presley. When she started her job as city clerk, she brought four portraits of Presley from her previous employment. She said she loves his music and was sad she never got to see him perform live.
City workers held a dinner at Purvis City Hall to celebrate her retirement. Police officers and city workers alike came to wish Speights well, including Mayor Roger Herrin.
“She is just a joy to work with. She always has been,” Herrin, the 26-year mayor of Purvis, said. “She worked hard. Sheila gave it everything. She turned this into her life.”
The long-time Purvis mayor worked with Speights from the beginning of her tenure until the end. They even shared an office for a time. Herrin said she was extremely organized and motivated in her job. He said he and Speights saw many ups and downs including the days at City Hall following Hurricane Katrina.
“We are going to miss her,” Herrin said, but he expects her to be active with City Hall.
Not only did they share an office for a time, but they also were next door neighbors for years. He said they are still neighbors but not as close in proximity after he moved.
“We were next door neighbors, but I had to get a little distance,” he said laughing.
The Rev. Bill Wright ,who preaches at the First Baptist Church of Purvis, has known Speights for about 16 years himself as both the city clerk and an active member in the church, and said what makes the city of Purvis so great to him is people like Speights.
“We are just so grateful for Sheila for the time and her service to this community,” he said. “Sheila is one of those ladies that is always positive and upbeat. She’s got a servant’s heart, and she is always willing to help out where she can.”
Wright said he and Speights have a very good friendship. He said his most notable memory with her was the time he moved her car without her knowledge, and she thought it was stolen. When she found out he moved it, she got him back by putting a for sale sign in his vehicle, a Jeep, with his number and a very low price.
“I got calls all day about that Jeep, so she got me back, and we’ve had that kind of relationship for years,” he said. “She loves to have a good time, and she can dish it out, and she can take it.”