HERTFORD — Retired Superior Court Judge J.C. Cole thanked Perquimans County commissioners Monday for naming the courtroom in the county courthouse for him.
“The other day when you made that presentation, it as now, brought tears to my eyes that a poor little country boy would receive that kind of recognition,” Cole said. “I just wanted to come and say, ‘thank you.’”
Cole, who was re-elected in 2018 to an eight-year term, is retiring now because he recently turned 72, the mandatory retirement age for judges in North Carolina.
During his visit with commissioners, Cole talked about how he grew up the oldest of six children in a house where water was drawn from a hand pump and the bathroom was an outhouse.
“I am the oldest of six. My parents accepted no excuses. My father was a taskmaster. Because of that I was able to go to school and receive my education and ended up going to law school at the urging of my beautiful wife,” he said. Cole’s wife, Janice, is herself a retired District Court judge, a former U.S. Attorney and a former Perquimans County commissioner.
J.C. Cole said he accepted the honor of having the courthouse bear his name “on behalf of the whole county.”
“It is not that J.C. Cole has done anything that is special, but each and every one of you in your own way have touched me, encouraged me. That encouragement, those prayers allowed me to serve 26 years,” he said.
Cole, who officially retired from the bench on March 31, likened the honor to winning the Super Bowl.
“It’s almost like going to the Super Bowl after you served your career and then to have the folks in the county that you love to present me not only with a plaque, but also to have a courtroom named after me,” he said. “It’s like winning the Super Bowl. I love you guys and I’m truly, truly thank you for the honor.”
During a reception at Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City several weeks ago, Cole was also presented the N.C. Friend of the Court Award by retired Court of Appeals Judge Linda McGee. The award has been presented only 61 times by the N.C. Supreme Court in recognition of outstanding service to the state’s judicial branch or for having a positive impact on the state’s courts.
Cole also saw Gov. Roy Cooper follow his recommendation this week and appoint District Court Judge Eula Reid to succeed Cole on the Superior Court bench in the 1st Judicial District.