Danny Hester dove headfirst into the office of Register of Deeds, with his election in 2010, after a 38-year career as a funeral director.
He doesn’t have to take a breather to campaign heavily this year thanks to an unopposed run for a second term.
During his first term, he said, the office has “turned up to the 21st century” with new technology, new recording software and a focus on making the office’s functions and documents more convenient and accessible on its website.
Alongside those technological advances, the traditional function of the office of Register of Deeds — “protecting the books” — remains a powerful mix of work and play for Hester, a self-professed history buff.
“I love anything old,” he said. “Even though we put those records out on the web, I still love going in and picking up those books. Preserving the books is the main aspect of my job. I hold those records; I’m in charge of those records. If those records start to get dilapidated, my job is to make sure they get done. I take that seriously.”
Hester, a Republican, is a man who loves his job, and recognizes the importance of maintaining the vast number of records generated in Lincoln County, going back to the first land deed recorded in 1769. But when he’s not carrying out the duties of the office, he said he enjoys spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren, attending Boger City Baptist Church and working on his wife’s family dairy farm in Iron Station. The demands of public service have forced him to “put a lot of the other stuff outside of this office on the back burner.”
“But that’s what you do when you’re serving the people,” he said. “Every person who goes into serving people has to put those people first. Your family understands — this job comes first. My family, they knew. They understand, they know that they took on this as much as I did. I have not put my head on my pillow at night yet and felt like I let the people down. That’s what I strive for.”
Most of Hester’s work in his first term has been behind the scenes, which has kept him from carrying out as much customer service and public interaction as he’d like to have. That’s one of the reasons, he said, he wanted a second term in the first place.
“That’s three years of a lot of work that has kept me from interacting with the public,” he said. “Interacting with the people is, by far, the most rewarding part of this job. Serving the people is in my blood. I don’t know what else I would do if I wasn’t serving people some way.”
But when he does get a chance to work with the public, he often sees people at either their highest or lowest.
“When someone comes into this office to get a death certificate it’s a sad time because it’s their husband or someone like that,” Hester said. “I have fun doing the marriage certificates. I really get to have fun with these couples.”
He said his favorite documents are the deeds.
“The reason I like to see deeds is because this could be a young couple in their first house,” he said. “Now, unfortunately right after that deed is recorded the deed of trust is coming right behind it where they borrowed the money to do it. But I like to see people with that opportunity, of standing on their own two feet.”