Buddy Waldrep is retiring — again — marking a career of more than 50 years in law enforcement.
“50 years in law enforcement total, that was his goal,” his daughter Teresa said.
Today will mark Waldrep’s last day in service.
Waldrep, 77, is a familiar face at the Hall County Courthouse. He’s worked security at the building’s front public entryway the past two years, in addition to several years spent there before first retiring.
“I’ve enjoyed this work. Both times,” he said.
That was evident. His personable demeanor shines in every interaction with those he greets at the courthouse.
“I like talking to people, and seeing the familiar people. I have a lot of friends here at the courthouse,” he said.
It would be impossible to know everyone, though: As many as 2,500 people come through those doors on the busier days, such as jury selection, he said.
On a daily average, courthouse deputies screen more than 1,000 people, said Capt. Chris Matthews, who heads the courthouse division of the sheriff’s office.
Waldrep is a native son, “born and raised in Hall County,” he said.
He was a student at New Holland Elementary, which is now demolished; he graduated from Riverbend High School, which today is an elementary school.
He hadn’t planned on a career in law enforcement. He went to work for the nearby General Motors plant in Doraville out of high school.
“Back then we called it the B.O.P. plant,” he said. “Buick-Olds-Pontiac.”
But when an opportunity presented itself in the sheriff’s office, he took it, starting out on patrol under Sheriff Ed England.
After serving in the office for 36 years, he’s seen five more sheriffs — Sheriffs Wilburn Reed, Dick Mecum, Bob Vass, Steve Cronic and current Sheriff Gerald Couch.
He met his wife, Debby, who was a fellow deputy at the courthouse, through his work. The years in law enforcement that were not served for Hall County were spent at Gainesville State College, now the University of North Georgia.
Teresa said she hopes to have more time with her father now that he’s retired.
“I think we will. We already make an effort now, and try to bowl once a week. We’ve been trying to do that for a couple of years,” she said.
When asked how he plans to spend his retirement, Waldrep simply said with a grin, “I plan to kick back.”