There were two high-profile deaths in Guilford County government this month within days of each other, and, at the Guilford County Board of Commissioners meeting following those deaths, every commissioner present spoke on the immense value of those former county officials and on the tremendous loss for everyone in the community.
In early August, highly respected Guilford County Chief District Court Judge Tom Jarrell died suddenly of a presumed heart attack at the age of 56 and Social Services Administration and Transportation Division Director Myra Thompson, who was an invaluable asset to Guilford County government for years in many different capacities, passed away after a long illness.
At the Board of Commissioners only meeting this month, Guilford County Commissioner Alan Perdue, who worked for years as the head of Guilford County Emergency Services, was one of the commissioners who spoke eloquently of the two.
“It’s been a rough couple of weeks in Guilford County with the passing of Judge Jarrell and Myra Thompson,” Perdue said. “I remember my parents taught me, whatever you do in life, give it all you’ve got and do the most you can – but, most importantly, make a difference in the lives of others.”
Perdue said he’d had the opportunity to work with the two over the years.
“Both of these individuals – they truly made a difference in the lives of others and they will certainly be missed by our community,” he said.
Commissioner Kay Cashion shared similar thoughts.
“Myra Thompson,” Cashion said, followed by a pause. “My goodness, it seems like every time there has been a glitch somewhere, Myra was given the job of fixing it.”
Cashion recounted how Thompson had turned the Guilford County Transportation Department around when it faced problems and how Thompson had done the same for other departments and divisions.
“She was a real pro,” Cashion added, “She was very pleasant and always willing to work on what was needed.”
As for Judge Jarrell, Cashion said there was simply no way to put into words the many contributions that he’d made to the community – “particularly with his involvement with the youth in this county.”
Jarrell was first appointed to the Guilford County District Court bench in 1999 after working as an attorney in High Point and as an assistant district attorney for Guilford County. In 2016, he was appointed Chief District Court judge. In his years on the court, he was very involved with programs that helped put people on the right path in life – especially those at a young age who might otherwise, without the efforts of Jarrell and others, have adopted a life of crime.
“He’s just been a champion of youth for many, many years, and he will be sorely missed, not only as a judge but as a public servant,” Cashion said.
Cashion also noted that Jarrell was intensely involved in establishing the Guilford County Family Justice Center that’s now in both Greensboro and High Point.
“He really wanted that,” she said of the center.
Commissioner Jeff Phillips also spoke on the importance of the two to the county and to the world.
Of Jarrell, he said, “I could share multiple stories about how he impacted the people around him and me personally in many ways.”
When he remembered Thompson, Phillips said, “I think of her laugh; I think of her smile – it was just an infectious laugh. She was always a joy to be with and, man, you talk about a public servant: I mean, she put it on the line every day that she was here on behalf of our citizens. She did all she could do to serve our citizens.”