Sam Davis Jr., Bryan County’s probate judge since 2000, announced Wednesday afternoon that he will retire at the end of the year.
Davis, 70, will not seek re-election and will retire effective Dec. 31, he said during a news conference in his office at the Bryan County Administration Building.
“I enjoy the job. It’s really a good job,” he said. “But it’s time.”
Davis, a Bryan County native, said he pursued the probate-judge position because of a desire to help people. He looks at the probate court as the first contact many people have with the county government, so his goal was to make the initial encounter as pleasant as possible.
“I looked at the probate-court position as a chance to serve the people of Bryan County,” he said.
Over the past 15-plus years in office, Davis has performed a myriad of duties — from overseeing elections to conducting weddings to involuntary committals and deciding on adult guardianship.
The latter two duties have been difficult, he said, particularly adult-guardianship issues. Those deal with a hearing to possibly taking away the rights of a person considered incapacitated and in need of guardianship.
“That’s the most heart-wrenching decision I have to make,” Davis said.
In his time overseeing elections, the county moved to modern, electronic voting equipment, and the number of precincts almost doubled to 10. Two years ago, the county moved election responsibilities to a special board.
Davis, who also was a Baptist minister for 27 years in Georgia and Florida, said he has continuing his woodworking hobby, golfing and doing some volunteering among his retirement plans. Until then, he said, he plans to keep doing what he’s doing and “just be here for the folks.”
“In the 16 years I’ve been in office, I’ve had the privilege of helping people through some very difficult times,” he said.