Officials remember Wilfong

BUCKHANNON — Upshur County officials expressed their condolences and their praise for County Clerk Debbie Thacker Wilfong, who passed away late last week.

Wilfong, 62, who served as Upshur County Clerk for 43 years, was buried Tuesday in Heavner Cemetery in Buckhannon.

One of West Virginia’s longest-serving public officials, Wilfong passed away unexpectedly last Thursday at her home.

Her death came as a shock to the Upshur County Courthouse staff, the County Commissioners and for many throughout the area, said County Administrator Carrie Wallace.

“The Upshur County Commission and all county employees are saddened by the news of our county clerk’s passing after over 43 years of dedicated service,” Wallace said. “Mrs. Thacker Wilfong was an obvious staple to the Courthouse family. She had a wonderful relationship with everyone that will forever leave a void in all of our hearts. Our thoughts are with her family during this very difficult time.”

More than 126 people wrote condolences on the Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home Guest Book in remembrance of Wilfong.

“Her smile was contagious,” Commissioner Terry Cutright said in a phone conversation Tuesday. “She was a bright spot and will be sorely missed.”

Although Cutright has served only two years as a County Commissioner working with Wilfong, he has known her his entire life. Both grew up in Buckhanon and went to school together.

“Debbie went into public service shortly after high school,” Cutright said.

Debbie Thacker was 19 years old when she started working as a deputy clerk at the Upshur County Courthouse. She served from 1973 to 1993 as deputy clerk, and in 1993 decided to run for the County Clerk seat. She won her first of four successful elections that year and had just won re-election in November.

She married Jerry Wilfong in 1985 and continued her life work as wife, mother and public servant in the Upshur County area, raising a family and living in Buckhannon.

A  comment in the Poling-St. Clair Funeral Home guest book said, “She was a bright light in school and in her work.”

John and Bertha Hewitt wrote, “Buckhannon has suffered a great loss. We will remember our classmate as one of the kindest people we have had the pleasure of knowing.”

Debbie (Powers) Quick wrote, “She was a classmate of mine and a beautiful lady, inside and out. I will cherish our memories forever.”

Nancy (Williams) Barros noted, “When I think of Debbie in our school days and our adult days, the thoughts that come to mind are smiling, kindness and caring for each person she encountered. She was a jewel that will be missed by many. Heaven has gained an angel with a shining halo and a smile to match.”

Wilfong was also a member of the West Virginia County Clerks Association, the Upshur County Republican Committee and Women of the Moose #598, and served as treasurer for the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Class of 1972.

Doddridge County Clerk Beth Rogers said she loved Wilfong’s smile and her great sense of humor.

“Debbie was always willing to help me and answer any questions that I had. She was a great friend and all of us will miss her very much,” Rogers said.

Wilfong served as the treasurer of the West Virginia County Clerks Association for many years, and as Diana Cromley, the Mason County Clerk, added, “County clerks across this great state will miss ‘Little Debbie’ so much. She was a friend and mentor to many of us. What a great example of a public servant.”

County Commissioner Troy A. Brady III said the Upshur County Commission will meet today to appoint an interim county clerk. He noted that an interim clerk needs to be found quickly.

“The county clerk is one of three signatures for checks, and payroll is Friday. The bank does not allow a stamp from a deceased individual to be used,” Brady said.

Commissioner J. C. Raffety noted, “Debbie Thacker Wilfong served the citizens of Upshur County with dedication and distinction. That Upshur County citizens would support her in every campaign in which she sought election and re-election speaks volumes as to the high esteem and excellent reputation which she held in the Upshur County community. She will be missed not only among the courthouse family, but also beyond.”