(Dec. 7, 2018) After 20 years of service, Charlotte Cathell has become a former Register of Wills, having retired last Friday from the position in the Worcester County Circuit Courthouse in Snow Hill.
Cathell, 68, of Ocean Pines, said she’s had a long love of politics. Before she was elected register of wills, she was a deputy clerk of the circuit court, and chaired the county’s Democratic Central Committee from 1986-1990.
For some, the office of the register of wills might be seen as a grim place, as most people find themselves there during a time of grief and great stress.
“It’s a very emotional time so we’re able to help them through that to the best of our abilities,” she said.
Is there a typical day at the register of wills’ office? Cathell said “not at all.” Sometimes it can be as simple as helping to open an estate and designating its assets.
“The only reason you open an estate if there’s something in the decedent’s name alone,” Cathell said. “So trying to decipher what they need to do [and] where they need to go.
Other instances involve employees lending an ear.
“You know a lot of times we listen to the family problems because more times than not, there is,” she said. “So it’s trying to guide them to the sources where they need to find out.”
Cathell said if she can help to alleviate a person’s stress, she’s done her job.
“If they walk out of here and feel that … ‘Wow it was nothing, like I thought it would be so much easier,’ ... that gives me the satisfaction.”
Cathell prides herself on stellar “customer service,” and said it’s been a priority from the beginning.
“That has been my whole drive since 20 years ago, when I got here,” she said. “My predecessor certainly … had great customer service, what I would call customer service, but I just tried to improve upon that.”
However, if there is ever an instance of a person getting out of line with her staff, she’s “quietly stepped in and taken over” in an attempt to diffuse a situation.
“The policy was my employees can’t be rude to anyone, but I can,” she said.
Cathell said it’s about following the golden rule.
“I try to treat people as I would want to be treated,” she said.
As this new chapter of retirement begins for Cathell, she said she has plans to keep busy. She also said she’d like to travel with her husband, Dale, spend time with her family and volunteer.
She said she was “humbled and honored” after being named the Citizen of the Year by the Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce.
Among her leadership roles in other organizations, Cathell said she’s on the board of trustees, and recently appointed secretary for the executive committee, for Atlantic General Hospital, an institution she calls “a gem in the county.”
Cathell stressed the importance of having accessible health care in Worcester County without making treks “across the bay bridge,” or to Salisbury.
“Quality health care to the locals, where particularly seniors and children can gain the quality health care locally,” she said.