Though local governments are ever-changing, one constant over the past nearly 21 years was the 116th legislative district’s office manager, JoAnn Geppert.
Geppert has worked for the 116th district since 1992 and just retired at the end of 2013.
In her time as office manager, she worked with three different state representatives: Terry Deering in Nashville, Dan Reitz in Sparta and Jerry Costello II in Red Bud.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” she said. “This is just a beautiful district.”
She looks back on her time as office manager fondly.
“All three representatives have been very caring, conscientious people who truly care/cared about their constituency,” she said. “It takes a special person to run for public office and we have been served by some special legislators.”
Over her 21 years, Geppert recalls memorable moments such as the death of Rep. Deering, the Flood of 1993, Sept. 11, 2001, and swearing-in ceremonies.
“The swearing-in ceremonies are always very special to me,” she said. “Having seen how hard the representatives work and the sacrifices their families have to make, I was always so proud of them when they stand up and take that oath to serve.”
Her most memorable work experience moment was when she was invited to the christening of a baby boy whose family they had worked with.
“(He) had been given a better chance to grow up and lead a more normal life through the advanced procedures of modern medicine,” she said. “Surgery before birth and survival of both mother and baby is a modern miracle.”
Now she is retired, Geppert is looking forward to spending time with her husband of nearly 45 years, Pete, along with grandchildren and other family members.
“Hobbies I will finally have time to enjoy again are reading, bike riding (especially with my grandsons), gardening, quilting and, last but not least, time to work on the family tree,” she said.
Rep. Costello praised Geppert for her work over the years, saying she is one of the most compassionate people he has ever met in his life.
“To me, I think that’s why she has stayed in this position for so long,” he said. “I know I’m in this position to help people, and it’s definitely the reason she is as well.”
Costello said that even when the district office as a state agency cannot find the right help for people, Geppert would never stop there.
“She’d always find a charitable organization or a social group to help people out,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot from her about the state and local government in the past few years. She’s helped me so much.”
Geppert is thrilled Hopkins is in her old position. The two have known each other since Geppert worked for Rep. Deering.
“I feel (Hopkins) is an excellent replacement having already had a career of public service experience and she has a really big heart,” she said. “It’s all about the people we try to help.”