I wrote in July about legislative staffers who had been here the longest, (Dot Barber and Shirley Phillips have worked here continuously since 1965, Joan Leatherman since 1967, Anne Cole 1963, 1967, 1980-date, Penny Williams 1959, 1987-date). Dot and Shirley are in their 43 year of consecutive service.
The record for continuous legislative service is held by Annie Cooper at 50 years and 7 days. “Miss Annie” as she was known, started work with the Corporation Commission (now known as the Utilities Commission) in 1919 at the age of 17, and was assigned to the House Principal Clerk’s staff for the 1919 and 1921 sessions (her daughter Dora Cooper Beale told me last week that it was common at the time for state agencies to assign staff to the General Assembly). The 1919 session convened January 8, 1919. Miss Annie converted to the General Assembly payroll on the House Clerk’s staff in 1923, according to an April 11, 1965 News & Observer article about her. Working her way up to Journal Clerk, she became House Principal Clerk on Match 8, 1943, when then Principal Clerk Shearon Harris was drafted. Miss Annie served as House Principal Clerk until January 15, 1969, when she was succeeded by JoAnn Smith (the story is that Miss Annie was defeated for renomination by one vote in the House Democratic caucus held just prior to convening of the 1969 session).
I met Miss Annie just once. In 1987, Bill Typing Supervisor Tommie Hobgood retired, and Miss Annie (under whom Tommie had worked) came to the retirement party in the Legislative Office Building and I got a chance to talk to her. Annie Cooper died in 1993.
The News & Observer reported in 1965 that during her first week at work, she attended committee hearings on the Women’s Suffrage Amendment, which became the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution March 16, 1919. 18 states ratified the amendment between January 8 and 16, 1919. North Carolina did not ratify until 1971.