NEWBURYPORT — After 38 years as clerk magistrate for Ipswich and Newburyport district courts, Kathryn Morris Early’s last day was Wednesday.
When asked what she was going to do next, she kept it simple: “I’m going to get a banana split at Dairy Queen.”
The 67-year-old Plum Island resident was feted by dozens of co-workers and her interim replacement, Rachel Hickey, in the clerk’s office.
“I’m going to miss these people, my second family, my court family,” she said, as people filtered in.
Early was named Ipswich District Court’s clerk magistrate in 1981 and then named Newburyport’s clerk magistrate when the Ipswich court moved to Newburyport in the mid-2000s.
“It’s bittersweet, I guess,” she said of her retirement. “I feel glad I’m leaving when the court is running very well, great staff. That makes me happy.”
Early said she didn’t have plans for her retirement other than to continue visiting Todd Farm, the Rowley flea market, each Sunday.
“This is my first summer off in 40 years,” Early said.
Hickey said she was excited and grateful to be named acting clerk magistrate. Clerk magistrates are appointed by the governor, but Hickey said she would love to get the permanent job.
Hickey said if she is named Early’s permanent successor, she would continue much of what Early did during her nearly 40 years on the job.
“Not much to do here” in terms of making changes, Hickey said. “We’re going to miss her.”
Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @drogers41008.