Gail Duffey served 32 years as city clerk in Scottsboro. Her impact will last a lifetime.
If you don’t believe it, walk into Scottsboro City Hall and look straight ahead. You won’t see a former mayor’s name there.
Instead you will see Gail J. Duffey Auditorium.
I knew her as Mrs. Duffey; never called her anything else. Mrs. Duffey died this week, at the age of 83. She was one of the best people I’ve met since I came to work here 13 years ago.
Those who knew her say she never met a stranger and liked everyone. I believe that. From the first day, she always asked me about my family. She always wanted to know about Luke.
She grew up in Tennessee, and then made her way to Alabama. She married Gene Duffey, and they found their way to Scottsboro in 1969.
She came to city hall in 1976, not knowing what a city clerk did. She learned quickly and became one of the best in the state.
They called her ‘mayor,’ but she never considered running for that position or any other. Even though, odds are, she would have easily been elected.
Mrs. Duffey worked for seven mayors: Roy Owens (eight years), Lonnie Crawford (four years), Walt Hammer (four years), Louis Price (eight years), Ron Bailey (four years), Dan Deason (four years) and Melton Potter (one day).
She retired the day Potter was sworn in in 2008.
Mrs. Duffey came to Scottsboro because of Gene’s job, where he came as a supervisor preparing to open a new Gibson’s Department store. Her and their son, Wally, followed him.
Gene died in June 2018.
They made a difference in Scottsboro, just two great people. Once Mrs. Duffey retired in 2008, her work didn’t stop. She still loved Scottsboro. She still wanted it to be great. She became the chairperson of the city’s beautification council.
Picking up litter and keeping place look nice was a top priority.
She once said, when her and Gene moved to Scottsboro, it took her a couple of years to settled in.
“I kept one foot out of the door for nearly two years,” she once said. “It took me that long to get both feet in the door. Now, I wouldn’t ever think of moving.”
And the city of Scottsboro is grateful for that.
DeWayne Patterson is the editor and publisher of the Jackson County Sentinel. He can be reached at email@example.com.