The Superior Court Clerks’ Association of Georgia recently renamed its achievement award to honor F. Barry Wilkes, former clerk of the superior court of Liberty County.
During the organization’s fall conference in Savannah in October, the organization announced that it had named its prestigious ÉCLAT Award “The F. Barry Wilkes ÉCLAT Award.” Greg G. Allen, president of the association and the clerk of the superior court of Forsyth County, said, “One of the easiest decisions of which I have ever been involved was renaming (the award) the ‘F. Barry Wilkes ÉCLAT Award’. The ÉCLAT stands for exceptional commitment, leadership, accomplishment, and teamwork. These words are synonymous with Barry’s career as a clerk of superior court.
“Barry’s integrity, vision, unmatched hard work, and determination improved the working lives of clerks statewide and greatly benefited the citizens of Liberty County and the entire state of Georgia. His incredible legislative accomplishments, quick ability to identify, adapt, and implement new technologies, and clear vision of the future, coupled with a relentless drive to shape that future, were instrumental in changing clerks’ offices from the old paper world to a 21st century digital world. Never afraid to roll up his sleeves and get to work, he served in numerous leadership roles. His time as chairman of the Georgia Superior Court Clerks Cooperative Authority will be long remembered as a period of great change and implementation of many improvements and services for citizens of this state. If there were ever a Mount Rushmore of clerks of superior court, the face of F. Barry Wilkes would be the first chiseled into the stone. Naming the ÉCLAT award in his honor is just a small token for recognizing the debt he is owed for his herculean efforts to improve clerks’ offices and the lives of all Georgians.”
During a ceremony on Oct. 15 at the Hyatt Regency in Savannah, Wilkes presented to Angie Elder-Johnson, Clerk of the Superior Court of Oconee County, the thirteenth ÉCLAT Award—but the first bearing his name—awarded to a clerk of superior court since the award was created in 2006.
Wilkes told clerks, “Most of my life has been dedicated to ideals that only those blessed to be a member of our clerk family can wholly understand. Those ideals were borne out of necessity but came to fruition because—and I truly believe this—because we were predestined as conduits for miracles that Almighty God planned for us before we were in the womb—miracles, not for our glory, but for his alone, albeit miracles that unfolded for the good of those who entrusted us with the sacred seal of their office of the clerk of superior court, in service to them…
“In time, those things that came to fruition because of dreams that I was given for the benefit of clerks of superior court—then, now, and forevermore—may dissipate and be forgotten. Whether they do or not, nothing will ever diminish the feeling of satisfaction that I experienced when I, in my youth, was chasing windmills and fighting wars in the trenches with my fellow clerks of superior court, wars that everyone believed we would lose, but few that we ever did…In my dotage, those times now warm what is left of my heart and, as I now piddle daily, the faces and voices of those dear clerk friends with whom I shared most of my life constantly remind me that, once, I was part of something transcendent, bigger than life, and greater than I could have ever dreamed.
“I am honored and I am humbled that, despite all the mistakes I made along the way, you still deem me worthy of this tremendous honor.”
Wilkes, who is the longest-serving clerk of superior court in Liberty County’s history, retired in 2017, after rendering 33 years of service. He is renowned for being a “visionary”, for creating technological innovations for clerks’ and other governmental entities, and for authorship of legislation that, particularly during the past three decades, promoted and mandated modernization and improvement of the state’s judicial system, including bills that drastically overhauled the state’s antiquated system for arraying grand and petit jury pools and many of the duties and responsibilities of superior court clerks. He also served locally as clerk of the state court, juvenile court and magistrate court, and was the local court administrator.
In 2013, the clerks’ association presented him the first Lifetime Achievement Award ever conveyed to a clerk of superior court during the association’s history. He received the Georgia Superior Court Clerk of the Year Award in 1993, an award which may be bestowed upon a clerk of superior court only once in his or her lifetime.
Wilkes was an architect of the Georgia Superior Court Clerks’ Cooperative Authority, a one-of-a-kind, state entity created in 1989 by the Georgia General Assembly to create a statewide information system for Uniform Commercial Code financing statements.
The authority now operates statewide information systems for real estate and personal property records of the 159 offices of clerks of superior court of the state, notaries public, real estate transfer tax, and numerous other databases. He served as a board member of from 2001 until January 1, 2017 and was chairperson for seven years.
He was chairperson of the Liberty County Records Advisory Board from (1988-2017) and the Liberty County Information Technology Board (2000-2017).