Remembering someone who made a difference
Leada Gore, Editor
The best stories about Patricia Fuhrmeister are ones I can’t tell you.
I can’t tell you these stories because, years ago, I promised her I wouldn’t and I intend to keep that promise. I will, however, tell you they all have to do with Tricia’s role as Probate Judge in Shelby County. I spent eight years working at the newspaper there and it was in that capacity that I met Judge Fuhrmeister.
She is one of those people you just don’t forget.
One of the duties of a Probate Judge is to perform marriages. I used to sit in my office across the street from the courthouse and see couples – some in full wedding regalia – make their way into the courthouse. Once they were inside, they had to wait in line to be married. This often made for a humorous site, especially if they got in the wrong line and ended up renewing their driver’s licenses instead.
Judge Fuhrmeister performed a lot of weddings and sometimes, they made for some funny stories. She would sometimes retell these stories, omitting all the names, of course. She swore me to secrecy – specifically saying “you cannot write about this.” I will tell you, however, that one story involved a very fast talking Probate Judge who knew she had to perform the ceremony very fast so as the bride and groom didn’t celebrate becoming parents during the ceremony.
Thinking of that story always makes me smile. I thought of it Saturday when I received a call that Tricia had died following a long battle with leukemia. She was only 51 years old.
Being Probate Judge isn’t easy and I doubt there are many children who say “When I grow up I want to be a Probate Judge.” They are responsible for an amazing array of things, from elections and adoptions to wills and land transfers. People are often dealing with the probate office during difficult times.
Judge Fuhrmeister was perfectly suited for her job. Her kind, easy going manner easily put one at ease. She brought the tender-heartedness of a mother to her job. She also brought the toughness of years of legal training, too. In a world full of professional politicians, Tricia was one of the good guys. She truly wanted to make a difference and that’s a lesson we can all learn from.
When I heard the news of her death on Saturday, I first though of her funny stories. After that, I thought of a time when we were on a Leadership Shelby County trip to Pelham, where her dad was the first mayor and her mother the postmaster.
While we all mingled around, she went to the cemetery and cleaned off the graves of her parents. She turned around and walked away with a smile. A smile, much like the one she brought to my face so many times.