Tom Headlee to retire as county’s recorder

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WAYNESBURG – For the last 38 years, Thomas M. Headlee has been the Greene County register of wills and recorder of deeds.

In less than two weeks, however, he will be leaving the office he has served for nine and half terms to begin retirement.

“It’s been a joy working here,” Headlee, 78, said Wednesday. “I’m going to miss everybody who works at this courthouse, as well as everybody who works for this county.”

Headlee said he also will miss the interaction he has had with the public, the many people who have come to his office to file or research deeds or estates or record land transactions.

It was time for a change, however. “I’ve always wanted to travel,” Headlee said, speaking of his plans for the future. “I’d just like to enjoy life for a little while.”

Headlee was first elected register and recorder in 1975 and took office in January 1976. During his years in office, he has seen many changes.

At the start, he said, everything that was filed or recorded in the office was written by hand. “Everything is now computerized. All our records, from 1796 to yesterday, are online.”

Headlee has also experienced the increase in people conducting title searches as a result of the oil and gas boom. During the last five or six years, people conducting title searches have regularly filled his offices and at times have spilled over into the hallways.

Commissioner Chuck Morris, who as an attorney frequents the courthouse, said he has known Headlee since Headlee took office in 1976. “He has always run an excellent office that goes out of its way to help people, especially those who are unfamiliar with the office or just anyone who needs help.

“We’ll miss him; he runs a first-class office,” Morris said. “And he’s a heck of a nice guy.”

Headlee’s last day will be Dec. 31. He will be leaving half way through his 10th term and it will be up to Gov. Tom Corbett to appoint a replacement.

The new register and recorder shouldn’t face a difficult transition, Headlee said. The office staff is “excellent,” he said. “And truthfully, I don’t know what else I can do for this office. It’s up and running and running smoothly.”

Headlee is a graduate of Mapletown High School and West Virginia University. He served a stint with the U.S. Forest Service in southern Illinois, before returning and working with his family’s lumber business for more than 30 years.

Headlee is a member of West Greene Area Lions Club, Greene County Historical Society, Greene County Conservation District, Waynesburg Moose Lodge and Cornerstone Genealogical Society.

He is a charter member and co-founder of Center Township Volunteer Fire Company and a former member of West Greene School Board and Community Foundation of Greene County.

He belongs to and has served as president of Pennsylvania Recorders of Deeds Association and Pennsylvania Register of Wills Association.

Headlee ‘s wife, Pauline Barzanti, died in 2011. He has four daughters, Cindy (John) Curtis of Dry Tavern, Judy Schifko of Ruffs Dale, Patty Headlee of Flagstaff, Ariz., and Amy Headlee of Reston, Va. He also has four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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