Renita Thompkins Linville was sworn in Monday as the new Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court, the first black person to ever hold that position.
Her youngest sister, Tina Thompkins, told the crowd gathered in Courtroom 6A that it wasn’t really a surprise that Linville had gotten to this place — she comes from a family of what Thompkins called legacy-builders.
Linville’s late father, David Thompkins, was the first African-American to hold the position of executive director for the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem. Her mother, Olivia Thompkins, who attended the swearing-in ceremony, worked for years as the finance director of Reynolds Health Center.
And Renita Thompkins Linville has worked as an attorney for more than 30 years, first founding the law firm Buie & Thompkins in 1987 and then starting her own firm in 1988, where she specialized in family, traffic and real estate law.
Judge Todd Burke of Forsyth Superior Court appointed Linville to complete the unexpired term of Susan Frye, who retired June 1 as clerk of court. Frye was elected in November 2018 to her third four-year term. Linville will earn an annual salary of $123,554 as clerk of court.
Linville said she was humbled and honored at the appointment.
“My life may have looked easy, but I have had trials and tribulations” like many of the people who come to the Forsyth County Hall of Justice, she said.
The Forsyth County Clerk of Court has more than 90 employees and is responsible for recording and maintaining thousands of documents, such as criminal judgments and divorce cases.
Burke said the Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court is the face of the courthouse. About 40 percent of court employees work in the clerk’s office, he said.
Most people who spoke described Linville as a problem-solver and a person who has a great heart for people.
Another legacy-builder also chimed in during Monday’s swearing-in of Linville — Chief Justice Cheri Beasley of the N.C. Supreme Court. Beasley is the first black woman to serve as Chief Justice.
“I know you have a heart for people and a heart for service,” she said.
Linville received her law degree from Howard University School of Law and got her undergraduate degree in business administration from N.C. Central University. Her husband is James F. Linville, who is the pastor of Piney Grove Baptist Church.
Linville said she just wants to be the best Forsyth County Clerk of Court that she can be.