Tennessee Records Repository

Decatur Co. TN


From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Brewer Printing Company, Jackson, Tennessee, n.d.).

This People of Action, issued circa 1969, reproduced newspaper clippings about people in Decatur County. Most items probably were written in the mid 1960s. Most, but not all, of the items were written by Lillye Younger herself and most, but not all, appeared in the Jackson Sun. The photographs, which in the book were poorly reproduced from clippings, have not been scanned.

Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of Lillye Younger for permission to make these web pages.

Thanks to www.tnyesterday.com for contributing this transcription.

By Lillye Younger

Decatur's Woman Judge Has Unique Job In State

PARSONS, Tenn. — "It's quite a difficult situation being the only woman county judge in Tennessee," says Mrs. Juanita Long of Parsons. "I have to talk to the opposite sex since women are not too interested in the duties of a county judge."

Mrs. Long was appointed judge on Aug. 19, 1959, to fill the unexpired term of her husband, who died while in office. She was elected by popular vote in 1960.

The judge was born in Benton County and graduated from Parsons High School. She attended Bethel College, University of Tennessee-Martin Branch and Union University, receiving her B. A. degree.

She is a member of the First Baptist Church in Parsons.

Mrs. Long has two daughters — Janice, who is a teacher in Florida and Jimmie Ann, who is employed as secretary in Memphis at a law firm.

The slender, attractive judge said: "From years of experience it doesn't bother me to associate with the men judges. It's something you have to learn. Education has been a real asset to me in this field. Being qualified for the position makes it less difficult."

Asked the advantages and disadvantages of being a woman judge, Mrs. Long said, "One advantage is that a woman's intuition is good and she is able to help so many people. This is the responsibility of a judge.

"It's a full-time job, not an 8 to 4 o'clock job. It's quite an honor.

"0ne disadvantage," she adds, "is in a state meeting you are quickly missed if you are not present."

"Another disadvantage is budget-wise — you can't do the things you'd like to do. You have a lot of anxiety on the decisions to be made on how to spend the taxpayers money wisely."

"I wish there were more women county judges," Mrs. Long says. "We do have women juvenile judges in the state.

Juvenile Court meets each week on Mondays and Fridays, over which Mrs. Long presides. County Court convenes quarterly on the second Monday of each quarter.

"Having been a teacher in the public school systems of Decatur County for 17 years has been a great help to me in Juvenile Court," Mrs. Long says.

"Some of my most interesting cases have been where children have been taken from ill-suited homes and placed where they can have a new way of life and a chance for an education.

"Even though there isn't enough money to do all the things I'd like to do, this accomplishment is very rewarding to the heart of a woman judge."

Asked if she thought Decatur County is getting adequate welfare assistance, the soft-spoken judge replied, "Yes, even though we are appropriating less in the budget for welfare than in previous years. This is due to the economic conditions of high employment in the county."

Sixty miles of road work has been included in the road reconstruction program for rural areas since Judge Long took office. Rebuilding of Highway 100 between Parsons and Decaturville has been completed, which was a widening and resurfacing job.

"Even though the county tax rates have been doubled within the past six years, the money has been spent wisely," Mrs. Long said, reviewing county progress.

"A nursing home has been built and is located in Parsons. Decatur County Hospital, a modern hospital with 22-bed capacity, was built by the county. A new central high school is being completed. Two factory buildings, one in Decaturville and one in Scotts Hill, have been built.

"Scott Field airport has received funds from the county. One half of the amount to operate the Parsons Library is furnished by the county.

"A lot of research work went into getting a vocational school for Decatur County," says Mrs. Long.

Plans are in the making to locate more industries in Decatur County," she said. The county has purchased an industrial site on Beech River.

Mrs. Long was on the board of directors when the Beech River Watershed was approved. Construction was started in 1962. "Decatur County will benefit by the watershed in the future as it is developed," says the judge.

An Area Redevelopment Administration (ARA) school has been approved and is located in Parsons. Decatur County has 14 pupils, two teachers and one coordinator in pilot literacy project for TVA — a school in Lexington for dropouts _____. [text abruptly ends here]

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