OSWEGO, NY – Things will be different when Oswego County Family Court opens on Monday morning.
“It will be quieter, that’s for sure,” quipped Thelma Borden.
“T,” as she is known to her family and multitude of friends, celebrated her 90th birthday Dec. 14 and retired from her position as a Court Attendant with the Oswego County Sheriff’s Office and the 5th Judicial District.
“’T’ has been actively working for us since Jan. 2, 1984,” said Oswego County Undersheriff Gene Sullivan.
Back then, Family Court was located in the county office complex on Bunner Street.
“T” said she remembers walking in and asking a woman what she was supposed to do.
“She said, ‘How the hell do I know? We have never had a bailiff before,’” “T” said.
“This is a little bit overwhelming for me. I can only imagine how it must feel for ‘T.’ Even when she told me she was going to retire on her 90th birthday I didn’t think it was actually going to happen,” said Hon. Eben Norfleet, Family Court Support Magistrate.
Judge James Tormey, chief administrative judge of the 5th Judicial District, sent a letter of recognition, which was read by Judge Norm Seiter.
On behalf of the 5th Judicial District, he wished her a happy 90th birthday.
“It is more than impressive to learn that you grew up in the time of the Great Depression. And, during World War II, you worked as a Winnie the Welder at the boiler plant in Oswego welding tanks for the army,” he read.
While she is officially retiring, with three children, six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, “T” is still active in her church and in the community as a member of the Oswego County Republican Committee – friends and family aren’t certain she will be taking it easy in this new phase of her life.
“T” started working with the court at the same time Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd began his tenure as Undersheriff for then Sheriff Charles Nellis, he said.
“She has just been a pleasure to work with,” Todd added. “She is usually the first one here in the morning and the last one to leave at night.”
He also presented her with a certificate of appreciation.
“Oh my!” she exclaimed. “Isn’t that something? You can all get one – if you live long enough!”
“The judge runs the court but ‘T’ made sure the court ran,” added Undersheriff Sullivan.
“Thanks for lots of lotsa, folks,” ‘T’ thanked everyone for their cards and gifts.
She read from one of her cards, “It says in red print: ‘It just won’t be the same around here without you.’” Lowering her voice she added: “No, it will be quieter.”
“It’s hard to believe this day would come. Wow, 1984, I was about to finish the eighth grade,” Norfleet said. “It has been my pleasure to have ‘T’ in my court for the last several years.”
She’d always come in with a smile on her face and a stack of sheets and court documents and say, “I’ve got a present for ya!” he recalled.
“The present is that we got to work with you every day,” he told ‘T.’
People aren’t always the happiest when they leave court, he said referring to the seriousness of the cases and that emotions often times run high.
But no matter how angry people were, he pointed out, they would always pause to politely wave goodbye to ‘T.’
“To me that is the ultimate sign of who ‘T’ Borden is. No matter what the circumstances were, she carried herself with such a grace and professionalism that it showed. I’m going to miss you very much,” Norfleet said. “It’s a great way to end a chapter …”
“Don’t say end!” ‘T’ interrupted
“I didn’t say book, just a chapter,” Norfleet replied.
Former Assemblywoman Fran Sullivan was one of the more than 100 well-wishers packed into the party.
“She took me around, door-to-door, when I was campaigning,” Sullivan said. “She would introduce to me everyone. I don’t think there was one person she didn’t know. She’s a great lady and we are really going to miss her. I wish her the best of luck in her retirement.”
“She was a great worker and everyone respects her,” added Family Court Judge Kim Seager. “She was always ready to go; she kept the court running smoothly. She always did it with good humor, always willing to help people.”
“I’m going to keep going. I’ll find something to do; anything that will keep me alive,” the birthday girl told Oswego County Today. “I have plenty to keep me busy. There’s a lot of stuff I can catch up on now. I’m out of here now; it’s been a lot of years. It’s kind of bittersweet but I’m ready to move on.”
“Thank you very much. I really enjoyed it here. If I was going to live a few years longer you might not be able to get me out of here,” she said.
She said one thing she’ll catch up on is her knitting and crocheting (scarves and mittens) – not just for her family but for her friends as well.
“I haven’t had a chance to do that while I was working,” she said. “I got to get back at that after things settle down a little bit. I’ll still be an usher at my church. As for what else? I don’t know. But I always find something to keep me busy.”