Donna Fisher-Driver receives loving send-off at retirement celebration for 40 years of service

Published 5:43 pm Friday, June 24, 2022

Donna Fisher-Driver received a loving and tear-filled send-off from family, close friends and loved ones, and the community on Friday, June 24 in celebration of her retirement after serving for 40 years as the Oxford Municipal Court Clerk.

Fisher-Driver officially retires June 30. She was awarded a resolution on behalf of the City of Oxford, which was officially granted earlier this month at the Board of Aldermen meeting, and a dedication plaque on behalf of the City of Oxford for her service to the force.

Fisher-Driver began has worked for Oxford at the age of 17. She started in 1981 as a part of the Vocational Office Training Class when she was still a senior at Lafayette High School.

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“When I started working here in 1981 as a Vocational Office Training student, I had no idea that I would still be here on this particular day,” said Fisher-Driver. “It’s been a long time and it’s been a good run.”

Post-high school graduation, Fisher-Driver continued to work for the city moving from V and a ticket clerk. It wasn’t until 1985 when Fisher-Driver was hired as Municipal Court Clerk to serve under the late Oxford Mayor John Leslie and former municipal judge, now criminal defense attorney, Dwight N. Ball.

Criminal Defense Attorney and former judge Dwight N. Ball served as the presiding municipal judge at the time. Ball was instrumental in hiring Fisher-Driver.

“We interviewed 51 applicants and Mayor Leslie asked me who I wanted and I said Donna,” Ball said. Leslie asked if Ball was sure, but Ball kept to his choice.

“She was the most qualified but he thought she was young,” he said. “There were so many people wanting that job and it became kind of political and a bunch of other things but the mayor left it up to me, the judge, on who I wanted to be the clerk. After talking to 51 people, there was no doubt in my mind. Not that the other people weren’t qualified, it’s just I thought Donna was the most qualified for the position.”

According to Ball, Fisher-Driver is one of the best court clerks he’s ever met, even when she only had a few years’ experience.

“She’s done a heck of a lot for this community,” he said. “I don’t know what in the world is going to happen as far as trying to replace her. I’m interested in knowing who they pick to try and partially fill her shoes. It’s going to be, in my opinion, very, very, very, very difficult.”

Fisher-Driver said Ball saw something in her 40 years ago that she didn’t even know she possessed.

“He believed in me,” she said. “And because he believed in me, he told somebody else, ‘I believe in her and this is the route we have take’ and I hope that all these years later, he still is proud of me as he was back then.”

The Municipal court clerk said all the judges she has worked under, including Ball, Judge Glenn Alderson, Judge Larry Little and current Municipal court judge Phillip “Hal” Neilson, have taught her valuable lessons.

In addition to judges, she has worked with many employees and under different supervisors and elected officials who entrusted her with important tasks and positively remarked on the way she handled her job.

“I’ve tried to handle things gracefully and I also tried to live by a couple of other things. One of them is ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,'” Fisher-Driver said. “If you do unto other people, just remember one day you could be on the other side of the desk.”

Neilson, Criminal Defense Attorney Steve Farese and Deputy Clerk Courtney Hill-Adams all took to the stand to explain the effect Fisher-Driver had on not only the Municipal Court and the community, but their lives.

“[She] set a bar that no one will ever surpass,” Hill-Adams said in a speech to her mentor and friend.

Fisher-Driver ended the speech section of her retirement celebration with words of thanks to the entire community.

“Thank you to the countless citizens of Oxford and to the University [of Mississippi] and all of their students,” she said. “Thank you Lafayette County for allowing me to serve as long as I have. The friends and the friendships that I have made will never be forgotten.”