LOWVILLE — Sally Szijarto has worked at the Lewis County Surrogate Court for the last 50 years, and she has no plans to retire anytime soon.
She celebrated her half-century of employment with the court on June 15, with a surprise lunch, an award ceremony and even had her name across the marquee of the Town Hall Theater in Lowville.
Ms. Szijarto started working at the court in Lowville in July 1970, after finishing high school.
“I had been in high school, graduated in June,” she said. “I was out there looking for work, applied here and there, and it just happened to work out that I ended up at the Lewis County courthouse.”
When she first started, she was called a typist. Her job description has changed little since then, but she is now called an office assistant.
Ms. Szijarto said that her work has always been about more than just bureaucracy.
“It’s more than just placing a name on a folder and entering information into the system,” she said. “I’ve always felt that this individual was a living human being, and deserves just as much respect now as they did when they were living.”
Over her 50 years with the surrogate court, Ms. Szijarto said that there have been a number of things that have changed the nature of her work.
When she first started at the courts, she was an employee of Lewis County. However, in the latter part of the 1970s, New York state moved to unify the court system and Ms. Szijarto became a state employee.
The technology she works with has also changed significantly.
“It was very different, of course, with all the technology you’ve got in the world today, the way we communicate,” Ms. Szijarto said. “We had rotary telephones, manual typewriters, no computers. Everything was done more hands-on.”
She said that she’s always loved living in Lowville, developing connections and playing her part in “small town USA.”
“I’ve always been the hometown gal, if you would,” she said. “City life isn’t for me, I just prefer a rural area. I was born and raised here, been here all my life. I just have no desire to go elsewhere, now or ever.”
She said that she has no plans to retire, and is instead taking each day as it comes.
“You’re always learning in this particular court, every day can be a new adventure,” she said.