GBA President

January’s Comments from the President

Vance BarronAlas, Chris Gumbiner, our office administrator, has told us that she will retire at the end of May. That day was bound to come, but it is unwelcome nevertheless. “What fates impose, that men must needs abide; it boots not to resist both wind and tide.” Chris apparently wants to spend more time shepherding her grandchildren than looking after a group of disorganized lawyers. I cannot imagine why. It is typical of Chris that she speaks warmly about her experience as office administrator.She has found that the lawyers in our association “couldn’t have been nicer.” She said that her job has “always been a pleasure.” Of course, she has always been cordial and welcoming, even when dealing with those of us who have made procrastination not just a business plan, but a way of life. How many times have we showed up for a meeting, looking for our name tag among those neatly laid out on the table by Chris. “Oh, I guess my assistant must have forgotten to make a reservation,” we say. “Not to worry,” says Chris with a smile. “We can always find a place for you.”

Chris professes not to know why lawyers have a reputation for being difficult. Who are these fire-breathing, aggressive creatures who chew up their adversaries for breakfast? They must be mythical creatures–they are not members of our bar association, according to Chris. I believe she is correct. How else could she have been so cheerful and happy to be among us? For the past nine years, Chris has kept the books balanced, prepared financial reports every month, made reservations for meals by guessing how many members would show up unannounced, prepared detailed agendas for meetings, kept in contact with the members about their association and judicial district dues, maintained a constant stream of e-mails, returned phone calls, and gently reminded your officers of their responsibilities.

When our association built the largest number of houses for Habitat for Humanity of any bar group in the nation, Chris was there to bolster the leadership of Nancy Ferguson, Bill Cooke, Jay DeVaney, and all the others who pulled together in that major enterprise. Chris remembers that in December 2004, shortly after she first took this job, she accompanied Polly Sizemore and Allison Grimm to hand out gift-wrapped books donated by our association to the children at Foust Elementary School. Chris was touched by the surprise and joy of the children to receive such nice gifts. The book project has grown each year and, under the direction of Sarah Roane, this year’s gift of books to Jones Elementary School will be the largest yet. Chris commends us for the project, but like so much else, it could not happen without her. Polly Sizemore said that Chris has done “an amazing job, day in and day out, and has done so with grace and poise.” Lest one think that Polly is laying it on thick, that sentiment is echoed by Ed Winslow, John Morgan, Wanda Daughtry, and other past presidents. Bob Douglas says of Chris that she has been the “heart and soul of the bar association.” He told me, ”I always knew when I was president that Chris had my back covered.” I am reminded of Nelson Mandella’s observation: “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur.” With Chris backing us up, nice things always seem to occur. She will definitely be missed. But she is not gone yet. When you see her, please take the opportunity to thank her for all that she has done for our association.

Vance Barron,

President of the Greensboro Bar Association.

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