SHELBYVILLE — Forest “Frosty” Herron and his wife Joan have been working non-stop for more than 70 years.
“We’re healthy and able to do it,” Frosty said. “And they keep asking.”
Their latest jobs have been at the Shelby County Courthouse. At 95 years old, Frosty takes care of the jury. “I’m the assistant bailiff,” he said. “Every time the jury comes in, we have to seat them. Anything they need, we’re responsible for them.”
Frosty understands his way around a courtroom. He was a deputy sheriff until he retired in 1992. “Then I started as a bailiff,” he said.
Joan, 92, was recently asked to assist with bailiff’s duties. “We’re more or less the security,” she said.
Courtroom proceedings are scheduled each month, allowing the couple to work part-time.
Janet Miller is the couple’s boss. She has worked with Frosty since he began as a bailiff. A female and a male bailiff are needed for each court proceeding, according to Miller. “It’s up to me who I get,” she said. “I’ve had several over the years, but he and I work so, so well together.”
Miller recently suggested Joan take her place when she was unable to work, for the first time in 40 years. “I was so thankful,” Miller said. “That’s a situation where I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
The bailiffs also have to follow the directions of the presiding judge to make sure the day runs smoothly.
“It’s a big job,” Frosty said. “You have to make sure the (jurors) behave themselves. And some of them don’t want to.”
“He knows how to handle them,” Joan said.
Always together, the couple has been married 73 years. “And I’ve worked all that time,” Joan said. “I think I’ve had about 18 jobs.”
The various jobs, including work with the the Illinois Veterans Commission and at Texas Tech University, gave Joan the experience the circuit clerk was looking for as a replacement when the bailiffs needed it. “He told me what to do,” she said about her husband’s directions. “That’s the only time I let him.”
Frosty is a veteran of the Air Force and the Merchant Marines. “And I’ve been in lots of foreign countries,” he said. “I’ve seen the world.”
Their recent work in the Shelby County Courthouse is enjoyable for the couple. The idea of retiring doesn’t sound as appealing. “I don’t know why,” Frosty said. “But we don’t need the money.”
The Shelby County Courthouse building also has an appeal. With all the state jobs they have worked, they have been to several throughout the state and beyond. “This is the prettiest courthouse we’ve been to,” Joan said. “Inside and out.”
The couple’s experiences and work ethics have been admired by their boss. “They are wonderful parents. They have wonderful children. They are dedicated Christians,” Miller said. “They’re an awesome couple.”
The Herrons said they enjoy the work they do at the courthouse with Miller and others they meet. “I love law enforcement,” Frosty said. “And we’ve had fun.”
Frosty admits he is under doctor’s care. He has restrictions he is told to follow. “You can’t do this. You can’t do that, but we do it anyway,” he said.
His work as a bailiff isn’t on the list. “But I don’t know if they know it or not,” Frosty said.
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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR