Advent Christian Village members Richard and Patricia Hanks’ relationship started in a courthouse. In fact, they still spend a lot of time in a Georgia courtroom, but they’re not in trouble; they’re bailiffs.
At the time of Richard and Patricia’s first meeting in 1989, Patricia was working with the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, Georgia. She served as a courtroom deputy clerk for five federal magistrate judges — a position she held for 10 years. As a courtroom deputy clerk, she was responsible for nine federal agencies. One of those federal agencies was Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. At that time, Richard was the chief ranger of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield.
Previous to her courtroom career, Patricia served as a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines for seven years. She came to know Jesus as her personal Savior at age 25 while she was a flight attendant. From that point on, she has striven to serve the Lord. And one day in 1989, while on her way to a court hearing, Patricia met Richard, a park service law enforcement officer who was scheduled to be in her courtroom to represent Kennesaw National Park.
Richard and Patricia agree that their first meeting in 1989 was a “God thing,” because it was love at first sight. Two years later, the couple was married on Valentine’s Day in 1991.
Three years into their marriage, Richard’s father passed away, leaving his mother alone in South Carolina. Richard, being an only child, was not sure what to do. After much prayer, and gaining encouragement from the biblical story of Ruth, Patricia lovingly chose to give up her career and cared for her mother-in-law for six years.
In 2000, Richard was transferred to Tennessee. He became superintendent of Fort Donaldson National Battlefield where he served for four years. Patricia worked for six months for the U.S. Forest Service as an information specialist at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. However, due to illness, she had to leave the position. After learning of her courtroom experience, the local courthouse in Dover, Tenn., asked Patricia if she would work part time. Patricia accepted the position as courtroom deputy clerk for the superior court of Stewart County.
Richard retired while still in Tennessee after 35 years with the National Park Service. Subsequently, God placed them in the North Georgia mountains, where once again, Patricia was asked by the chief judge in the Enotah Judicial Circuit if she would come be his judicial assistant. She agreed and remained in the position until he retired. The judge’s last order of business before his retirement was to make Patricia bailiff of Towns County Courthouse. She then made her husband, Richard, her assistant bailiff. They are currently the only two bailiffs in Towns County, Georgia (even though they spend several months of the year living in Suwannee County, Florida).
Richard and Patricia strive to serve the Lord first in their positions as bailiff and assistant bailiff, because with certainty they know He put them both there. Patricia has had the unique pleasure of serving over 17 different judges in her career, and she gives all the glory to her Savior for allowing her the privilege to be used by Him in this way. She knows she could have never accomplished such important work without Him.