Owenby, 68, has worked in the Cobb County Superior Court Clerk's office for nearly 51 years, first coming to the county as a 17-year-old graduate from North Cobb High School in 1959. She was the longest-serving employee in the county when she retired on April 30, county spokesman Robert Quigley said.
She served as senior deputy clerk.
After almost 51 years of working in the courtrooms with lawyers, judges and sometimes unruly defendants, Owenby said she's seen it all.
"There was just one Superior Court judge when I came, and there are ten now. And we used a typewriter for some things, but would write in the document books by hand," Owenby said as she sat at her desk, behind her computer.
Owenby was born and raised in Acworth, and met her husband at Mt. Olive Baptist Church. They married in 1961 and never had children. Owenby said she decided to retire when the county offered its retirement incentive in January so that she could spend more time with her relatives.
"At some point I knew I was going to retire anyway, and I'll still come back and work part-time when I'm needed, but I have been fortunate to know so many good people over the years - attorneys I've seen come here young and grow into wonderful lawyers, judges I've worked with for decades - so the people I will surely miss. And, honestly, I still love my job, but it was just time," Owenby said.
One of the judges Owenby has worked with the longest is Cobb Senior Judge Watson White.
White said he knew of Owenby when she came to the clerk's office and he was practicing law, but really forged a friendship and strong working relationship with her when he became a judge and she was assigned to him in 1979.
"She is one of the most dependable, considerate people I've ever known. She's heard every dirty word, seen every savage picture, been acquainted with every sort of crime, and was even in some courtrooms where the defendants were sentenced to death and later executed. She does her job probably better than anyone, and we've seen a lot together," White said. "She has a lot of spirit and confidence in the justice system, and many lawyers learned over the years that if they were smart, they'd go to Brenda."
White said Owenby became "like a sister" to him, and shared his love of the courtroom.
He added that she always had a cheerful and happy disposition. Well, almost always.
"I have only seen her upset one time, and that was when someone we helped said something bad about me. Well she marched him all the way from the clerk's office to my office to make him apologize. And he did," White said, with a laugh. "I don't know that there will ever be another Brenda Owenby."