An era is ending for the Bartow County School District.
At Monday night's school board meeting, Cartersville lawyer H. Boyd Pettit III announced his retirement as the school board attorney after serving 35 years in the position.
"Last year, Mr. Pettit indicated that he was looking to retire soon from serving as our board attorney," Superintendent Dr. Phillip Page said during the meeting. "I am very thankful, Mr. Pettit, that you held off that retirement to get my feet wet and my legs under me and through this transitional period."
Page, who presented the outgoing attorney with a token of the system's appreciation, said Pettit notified the board on Jan. 7 that he intends to retire in February.
Pettit, 66, said he's not retiring from his law practice, just from his position with the school board.
"I am trying to limit nighttime meetings," he said. "I still represent multiple public entities but began cutting back over a year ago."
The lifelong Cartersville resident also said his life "changed drastically three years ago with the death of my wife," Vickie.
"I continue to make changes to my schedule," he said.
Pettit, who will celebrate his 40th year of practicing law on Sept. 1, said he notified former Superintendent Dr. John Harper and the school board more than a year ago that he would be "cutting back and wanted them to begin thinking about a replacement."
"I also made Dr. Page aware when he became superintendent," he said. "I also stated that I would assist them with a transition. That will likely occur in February."
The new superintendent said the search is underway for Pettit's replacement.
"There’s a 10-day application window," he said. "Interviews will begin immediately following that period. We anticipate announcing a new attorney in February."
Page is grateful for the time he's gotten to work with Pettit.
"I appreciate all of his hard work during my transition as superintendent," he said. "His knowledge, expertise and advice have been very beneficial."
Pettit is grateful for that time, too.
"I will miss working on a daily basis with Dr. Page," he said. "He is a great asset for the district."
The board's longest-serving member, Anna Sullivan, said she first met Pettit when she joined the school board in 2012.
"As someone brand-new to this type of role, I had a fast introduction to the positive and negatives sides of human nature," she said. "It quickly became apparent that Boyd's complete focus was on serving not only the school district but also our community. His incredible breadth and depth of professional knowledge has been an enormous benefit that is impossible to fully appreciate if you have not had an opportunity to work with him. Most of all, however, it is his wry sense of humor, coupled with a calm demeanor, at tense moments that I will really miss. More than three decades of service to our school system is irreplaceable. I truly appreciate his kindness and his friendship."
In his role as board attorney, Pettit said he provided advice related to policy, personnel, student discipline, real estate acquisition and disposition, financing, budgets, audits, contracts, local legislation and litigation "among others."
"It is a specialized practice area of the law requiring continuing education," he said. "The time to cut back just seemed right for me."
But he added he will "continue to be supportive of the district and the [Bartow] education foundation."
A 1970 graduate of Cartersville High School, Pettit attended West Georgia College in Carrollton and Woodrow Wilson College of Law in Atlanta.
After graduating from law school in 1977, he began his career as a law clerk for the Cherokee Judicial Circuit of Bartow and Gordon counties.
"In September 1979, I achieved my dream of practicing law with my father [Hugh B. Pettit Jr.]," he said. "He only lived six months after we began practicing together. I am in the same office where we started and where he began his practice around 1956."
Pettit said he is "blessed" to have two daughters and four grandchildren who all live in Cartersville.