09/08/09 — Former county finance officer dies at 58

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Former county finance officer dies at 58

By Staff Reports
Published in News on September 8, 2009 1:46 PM

Norman Ricks

Norman Ricks, who served as Wayne County government's finance officer for more than 20 years, died Sunday.

He was 58.

Ricks, whose low-key demeanor and financial acumen helped guide Wayne during some of its most tumultuous years, had suffered from cancer.

Will Sullivan, who served as Wayne County's manager during the 1990s and was the county's tax supervisor before that, called Ricks a model county employee and an important part of Wayne County's government for many years.

"Norman certainly was a dedicated county employee, and he certainly was good with the taxpayers' dollars," Sullivan said. "He was very conservative and looked after every dollar entrusted to him."

"He was very conscientious," former Commissioner D.J. Pelt said. "It would have been an asset to any county to have had Norman as an employee."

Those comments were echoed by Commissioner Andy Anderson, who called Ricks "a real taxpayer's friend."

"He was very conscientious about his job and did it to the maximum degree. He tried to watch the pennies," Anderson said, adding that Ricks was known for trying to improve how the county did business.

One example in particular, he noted, was when Ricks pushed the county to begin selling its surplus equipment over the Internet, making Wayne one of the first counties to do so.

And, said current county finance director Pam Holt, despite the fact that Ricks has been retired for several years, his death is being felt deeply in the county's offices.

"Today the finance office is mourning the loss of a great leader. Norman set the example for all of us to follow and always kept Wayne County's interest at heart. He was a true leader for the finance staff and for the county as a whole. Wayne County has been served well to have had Norman as a part of its history," she said.

But more than an indeal employee, Anderson continued, Ricks also was extremely well-liked.

"He was as polite and friendly as could be. I always thought a lot of him," Anderson said.

In fact, said County Manager Lee Smith, being the county finance officer was just a small part of who Ricks was.

One interesting thing Smith noted, was that Ricks enjoyed spending time at the coast and had taken up woodworking, specifically carving birds.

"People didn't know Norman wasn't just the finance guy. He loved to jump on the tractor and bushhog, could fix anything. We'd sit and talk about fishing and fixing lawnmowers."

Most important to Ricks, though, Smith said, was his family.

"The one thing about Norman was he was a wonderful father," Smith said. "They were his pride and joy -- his family. In fact, I think that's what pushed him over the edge to decide to retire (in 2006) -- that he wanted to spend more time with his grandson. I'm glad he decided to retire when he did to spend that time with his grandbabies."

Ricks, a Wayne County native who grew up in Mount Olive was named the county financial officer in 1984, worked for Wayne County for 30 years. He received the National Association of Counties' Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for 10 years running, between 1996 and 2006.