Leatherwood to retire
Prince Edward County has announced that Coy W. Leatherwood, county building official since April 1, 1985, will be retiring effective Dec. 31.
“I have been thinking about this for a while and, at 84 years old, I have reached a point where it is time that I step down and let someone else take over the position,” Leatherwood said in a press release from the county. “I have enjoyed serving my fellow citizens and the building community in the county in which I have spent my entire life.”
Leatherwood took a few minutes in an interview to expand on his life and time spent serving the county, though he started by saying, “I’m not one for publicity.”
He had multiple careers along the way. Leatherwood spent 21 and a half years in the Air Force, logging 30,000 flight hours, he said. After that, he enjoyed a period of building and selling homes in Dover, Delaware. Then his brother-in-law talked him into taking the building inspector position, he said.
His time building houses contributed to his qualification as building inspector.
“I had electrician and plumbing experience — everything I needed, really, and then building codes were just coming out then, they were just getting started,” Leatherwood said.
He said he felt his greatest accomplishment in his career was just the steady, everyday work needed to do his job correctly.
“I enjoyed working with the people and helping them,” Leatherwood said. “They say, ‘Oh you can’t go!’ But I’m getting old and I need a few years to myself.”
In terms of challenges, the job saw a huge expansion in terms of codes, which Leatherwood has worked diligently to stay on top of, he said.
“The biggest challenge is staying up with the codes and staying professional with those,” Leatherwood said. “When I started to work, I could carry the code book in my back pocket, and now I’ve got eight or 10 books that’s an inch thick each, at least. It’s a challenge to keep up with.”
Soon, though, Leatherwood can relax a bit. He says he plans to spend his retirement working on his farm and fishing.
“I’ve got a 60 acre farm here,” he says. “I’m going to run my farm. There’s an eight acre lake on my farm. I’m going to fish. I’ve watched everybody in the world that wanted to fish do that in my lake, but I never had time to do it myself.”
Leatherwood had simple advice for his successor.
“Be good to the people,” he said. “Don’t create problems. Try to help the people and the contractors in the things that you do.”
“We thank Coy for the 36 plus years of service and dedication to Prince Edward County and its residents,” Prince Edward County Administrator Doug Stanley said. “He has been a faithful servant to the community. He has an excellent working relationship with the contractor community and goes out of his way to accommodate the public whenever he can. According to the Virginia Building Code Officials Association, Coy is one of the longest serving building officials in the State of Virginia and has served as a mentor to many across the state.”
Stanley added that the county will begin advertising for a replacement for Leatherwood in the coming month with the hope that they will be able to hire someone by October to allow for a couple of months of overlap to ensure a smooth transition for the office and the community.