She was known as “mayor,” even though she never ran for an elected office. They also called Gail Duffey “the mother of city hall,” simply because she took care of everyone. She never met a stranger and liked everyone she came across, those who worked with her said Wednesday.
Duffey passed away Monday, March 9. She was 83.
Born and raised in Fayetteville, Tennessee, she made her way to Scottsboro in 1969. In 1976, she became city clerk of Scottsboro, a position she would hold for the next 32 years. Through the years, she worked for seven different mayors and with many different department heads.
“She kept everything, and everybody organized,” said Scottsboro Police Chief Ralph Dawe. “I would go to talk to her, to get advice and sometimes get in trouble.”
Her job took her all over the United States and halfway around the world. She met governors and congressmen. But it was the people of Scottsboro she cared about the most.
Matthew Hodges came on the city council as a teenager. Duffey quickly took him under her wing.
“She took care of me,” said Hodges. “She made it possible for me to succeed.”
In 1998, Duffey was named the state’s Clerk of the Year. That same year she was also accepted into the Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.
Duffey came to work for the city under then-Mayor Roy Owens. On the first few days, nobody was there to tell her what to do. She learned quickly, becoming one of the best city clerks in Alabama.
She spent years mentoring other city clerks across the state.
“She was a very special person,” said Keith Smith, the city’s former police chief and council member. “We fussed, but we cared a lot about each other.”
Smith said Duffey was good to everyone.
“She was just a wonderful person,” he added. “There was nobody she didn’t like.”
After retiring in 2008, Duffey stayed busy, serving different boards in the city, including the chamber of commerce and beautification council. Dawe said Duffey would gather up all city department heads each April for Sparkle and Shine Month.
“She worked hard to clean up city streets,” said Dawe.
“She was a staple of our community,” added Hodges. “She was just the perfect example of a Southern woman.
Dawe said Duffey always remained with a watchful eye over her city.
“She will be dearly missed,” he said.
Funeral services will be held Friday, at 12 p.m., at Scottsboro Funeral Home.