DOBSON — Gretchen Hollar Kirkman, a Surry County native and longtime local attorney, recently took the oath of office as district court judge for District 17B, to serve Surry and Stokes counties.
Appointed to the post by Gov. Roy Cooper in January, she recently took the oath of office, surrounded by friends, family, colleagues and court officials.
Retired Judge Charles M. Neaves Jr., whose seat she was filling, administered the oath during a private morning ceremony at the Surry County Courthouse.
Kirkman is the third woman who will serve along with three men as judges in the District 17B system. Neaves congratulated Kirkman and remarked that he was so pleased that Cooper had appointed a local woman, “homegrown from the Yadkin Valley.” Kirkman then took the bench to preside over morning court proceedings.
Kirkman was born in Surry County, grew up in Dobson and graduated from Surry Central High School. She holds degrees from Surry Community College, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Wake Forest University School of Law.
Upon graduation, Kirkman served in the New York and New Jersey judicial systems before returning to Surry County to practice in 2002. Kirkman has worked as an attorney in private practice since 2004, specializing in family law, juvenile law, and criminal defense. She has managed various cases before District and Superior Courts in Surry and Stokes over the past 16 years.
After the private gathering, a more formal public ceremony was held at the Stokes County Courthouse in Danbury for Kirkman to be formally sworn in and recognized for her new position.
More than 100 people gathered to offer their best wishes and support to Kirkman.
Many dignitaries from both Surry and Stokes counties witnessed the proceedings including District Court Judge Marion Boone, Superior Court Judge Angela Puckett, Superior Court Judge Andy Cromer, Walnut Cove Commissioners Thomas Mitchell and Danny Hairston, District Attorney Ricky Bowman, court and DSS officials, and area law enforcement officials such as Surry Sheriff Jimmy Combs and Stokes Sheriff Mike Marshall.
Judge William Southern III conducted the ceremony and swearing in. Retired Chief Judge Ottis Bud Oliver assisted with assuming the robe. Judge Spencer Key concluded with a prayer for blessings and guidance for Kirkman as she assumes her new role.
Southern then opened the floor for attendees to offer regards and to recognize Kirkman for her life of service to our judicial system. Kirkman thanked all present for their attendance, their continued support and guidance.
Kirkman is the daughter of Dr. Thurman D. Hollar of Mount Airy and of Ann Hollar Garner (husband Andrew) of State Road. She is a sister to Jennifer Hollar Hall (husband John Hall Jr.) of State Road and to Scott T. Hollar of Raleigh.
Her grandparents, Reba White and Lee Roy Hayes, now deceased, were lifetime residents of Elkin along with several other family members still living in the area. Kirkman is married to Treva Kirkman of Mount Airy. They have two children, Lily Hayes Kirkman, 10, and Elizabeth Rose Kirkman, 7.