Judge Rachel Agerton has heart

Published 7:57 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

By BY LYDIA GRIMES Feature Reporter
Judge Rachel Agerton has been working in the Escambia County Probate Office for the past 35-36 years, working her way up the ladder to become the probate judge in 2000.
Besides her normal duties, she has agreed to preside at the upcoming "Cardiac Arrest" which will take place tomorrow morning in front of Brewton City Hall.
There are about 25-30 people who have agreed to have themselves placed under arrest in order to solicit donations for their bail. They will be charged and if they have not raised enough bail money, they will have to pay the penalty such as singing a song. The trick to this is the fact that no one, no matter how much in donations they have, has enough to pay their bail. They will have to perform for those in the courtroom which will lead to a good time for all, except maybe the performer.
This will be Judge Agerton's first time at being "Judge Heartless" and is a little bit apprehensive about the whole situation.
That will probably work out just fine as she has been doing a pretty good job as the county's probate judge.
She was born and raised in this area. She attended school in the local county school system graduating from W.S. Neal High School. She went to a local business school, Larkin Business School, after which she went into the work force doing several jobs. She was in banking and worked at the telephone company among other things. She was also busy getting married and having two sons, Doug and Michael.
In 1968 she received a call from Probate Judge Reo Kirkland Sr. asking her to come and work for him.
She has been working in the office ever since only taking time off to have her children and a period of time when she had to care for her mother. She was there when Judge Reo Kirkland died in 1969 during his term of office and his wife, Martha Kirkland was appointed to finish the term. Mrs. Kirkland then ran for the position and held it until 1989 when she retired and Devon Wiggins was elected to the position.
Agerton became the office's chief clerk in 1976 and was given the authority to do what the judge did.
The office in which she works is a very busy one. Much of what is recorded in the county takes place in the office of the Probate Judge. They record what land is bought and sold. They sell driving licenses, business licenses and hunting licenses. They record the marriage licenses sold in the county, handle adoptions, wills, guardianships, condemnations on roads and property and decide if a person needs to be committed to a mental institution.
Judge Agerton works out of the office located in the court house in Brewton but maintains an office in Atmore for those times when the people involved are from that area of the county. Many of the records are now filmed and much of what has been being in the large bulky books is now on the computer.
One of the fun jobs she handles is the performance of many marriages. On average, there are about 60 marriage licenses recorded each month and many of those are that are obtaining the licenses are married by Judge Agerton.
Another job the probate office handles is the election process.
The process doesn't end with the election itself. The count has to be made and that is also done at the probate office. Election night the people at the office are very busy with determining the winners, but not as busy as they were back in the days when everything was done by hand.
Agerton is helped by a staff of workers that have all been working there for many years. There are eight workers in Brewton and one more at the satellite office in Atmore.
The ladies that work in the office feel the same way about her. Patsy Booker said, "She is the best. She is very efficient, and don't tell her I said that."
Agerton is there for those that need her, when they need her. It was her day off on Saturday when she was called by a couple wanting her to marry them. She very graciously agreed to come to the office and marry them.
She loves to travel, cook and entertain. After the death of her husband, she remarried in 2001 to James Lancaster and between the two of them they have four children and eight grandchildren.
Judge Rachel Agerton may be a very good judge in Escambia County Courthouse, but can she be heartless at the "cardiac arrest"? Only time will tell.

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