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Posted: October 10, 2010 12:30 a.m.

Jim Dial gets judicial sendoff

Gabriel Khouli/

Bringing smiles with him: Jim Dial gives Dana Knight a hug at his retirement party, held Friday at the Covington Judicial Center. Dial has worked there as a mail clerk for 11 years.

Jim Dial worked only a few hours each day at the judicial center as its mail clerk, but his sunny personality and loving attitude has left an indelible mark on his co-workers.

Dozens of friends and family filled the jury impaneling room Friday afternoon to celebrate Dial’s retirement.

"Jim came to us 11 years ago to be mail clerk and before long he was running the courthouse," said Clerk of Courts Linda Hays. "Jim can just light up a room. He brought a lot of sunshine to us."

While Dial enriched the lives of those around him, his mother Shirley Dial said her son’s position in the judicial center made all the difference to him. The 47-year-old Dial has Down syndrome and is beginning to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.

"It was his life; it fulfilled it," she said. "Don’t plan to miss us, we’ll be back."

Dial formed a particularly strong relationship with Judge Samuel Ozburn. When Dial wasn’t delivering the mail, he would only trust the job to "his boy Sammy."

"We had a lot of fun together taking trips to Athens, going to the Varsity," Ozburn said. "But my biggest honor was to be his boy."

The frequent trips to Athens were treasured gifts for Dial, who loved the University of Georgia, particularly the cheerleading squad. Though the cheerleaders couldn’t make it to Friday’s celebration, former UGA football star David Pollack called Jim to congratulate him.

Hays also read a proclamation in honor of Dial, but it was her words from the heart that said the most.

"He taught us the most important thing in life is to love unconditionally," Hays said. "That’s what he did."

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