Patti Smith has servant’s heart

Published 2:47 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Patti Smith, former Shelby County District Court Judge and Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was honored by the Southern Women’s Committee of Fifty at the annual luncheon celebrating southern women of distinction. Also honored were “Sister Schubert” Patricia Barnes (famous for her wonderful dinner rolls) and “Lulu” Lucy Anne Buffett (restaurateur and Jimmy Buffett’s sister).

Certainly, all three women are well deserving of this honor but I want to focus on Patti Smith.

When I came to Shelby County in 1980, Patti had just taken the District Court bench and I spent some of my time representing the State of Alabama in her court. As you might imagine, we saw some of the joys and some of the horrors that are experienced by some families when we were handling juvenile court cases.

On occasion Patti and I would find ourselves celebrating the successes of the families; some days we would cry together over some of the tragedies. Juvenile court is emotionally charged and is very stressful for the judge working with the kids and their families. Through the years, Patti remained committed to the children in her court and her positive work with these families will be her most lasting legacy.

Patti’s career took a different turn when she became an Associate Justice on the Alabama Supreme Court. The decisions written by her and the other justices will impact the laws of our state for years, in some cases even generations.

Throughout the years of her service, Patti has remained steadfast in her faith and committed to her family and friends. A mutual friend recently commented to me that Patti Smith has the purest servant’s heart of any person we know. That is so true.

Patti unselfishly gives of her time and talents because she believes that is what people are supposed to do. She leads by example. She is truly a remarkable person and I feel very blessed to know her.

Jim Fuhrmeister is the Shelby County probate judge.