If you don’t have good things to say about someone who is retiring, then you probably won’t show up for his retirement reception.
The problem with the retirement reception for Blount County Circuit Court Judge W. Dale Young, however, was totally opposite. Although it spanned a two-hour time period, the room on the third floor of the Justice Center was continually packed with those who just wanted to shake his hand, to pat his shoulder and express what his 26 years on the bench and 32 years in the legal community have meant.
Unscientific estimates put the crowd filing through on Friday, Jan. 28, at between 500 and 600 people.
Judge Young, always the gentleman, sat and greeted each visitor with a smile, a remembrance and a thank-you.
Many had a story to tell. Mike Everett brought his 20-month-old granddaughter Allie Ann Everett. Allie Ann was adopted by Morgan and Glenda Everett on July 12, 2010, and she was the last baby to be adopted with Judge Young as the presiding judge.
“It is a proud distinction,” said Mike Everett. “He is such a fine man and compassionate human being.”
Young, 72, has said in previous interviews that presiding over the adoptions and being able to give children to loving families has been one of his favorite parts of his job.
The Blount County Commission presented the judge with a proclamation honoring his years of service to the community and to the commission. “He has been an exemplary judge,” said Commissioner Steve Samples. “The commission appreciates the work he has done and continues to do.”
Larry Garner of Blount Excavating, who is a member of the Blount County Election Commission, said he hates to lose Dale Young a judge, but he wishes him well in retirement. “He is a professional and a mentor to all judges as to what kind of judge they aspire to be. I don’t think there is a better judge around.”
Susan Mills, chair of the Blount County Republican Party, said there will be another judge, but not like Judge Young. “Positions can be filled, but you can’t replace a judge like Judge Young,” said Mills. “He is a wonderful man, kind and generous, and he has served his community and his state so well. He will be missed.”
Judge Terry Denton said it has been his privilege to work with Judge Young for many years. “Judge Young always has great insight into judicial issues, and he is generous in sharing his insight and knowledge. Many young judges have benefited from his knowledge, and this community is better off for him being our judge.”
Chancellor Telford Fogerty echoed those feelings. “Judge Young is a wonderful judge and wonderful man who is fair to all. He is still a mentor, a teacher, someone you could talk to and get good advice.”
Bob Kidd and Judge Young were childhood friends. “Dale and I went to high school together and then to Maryville College together. I have known him since 1952, and he is a man of the highest integrity. He has always been a very fair person.”
Ted Boyatt said he met Judge Young in 2006 when Boyatt, at age 18, ran for Blount County Commission. “He is the best of the best,” said Boyatt. “He has shown great leadership and set the bar high in Blount County. Personally, Judge Young was always very encouraging and very pleased to see young people getting involved in the democratic process.”
Keith McCord said Judge Young took his duties seriously and is a great man. Maryville City Councilman and vice mayor Andy White said the community owes Judge Young a vote of thanks. “We should be thankful for his service to our community and the region,” said White.
Attorney Clint Woodfin said he has known Judge Young for 18 years. “He epitomizes what I, as an attorney, think a judge ought to represent. He leaves Blount County with a fantastic legacy.”
Attorneys David and Marty Black said the judge has been a credit to the Tennessee judicial system.
“Judge Young said two things when he came to the bench. One was that he wanted lawyers and clients to be comfortable in his courtroom. The second was: ‘Don’t ever lie to me.’ It has been a short 26 years, and we will miss him.”