CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Friday marked the end of an era in Bradley County courtrooms.
Carl E. Colloms retired from a legal career he began as a young lawyer in 1966. Since then his courtroom career has ranged from Bradley County attorney to Charleston city judge, six years as a trial lawyer and, finally, many years as the child support master for family courts in Bradley, Polk, Monroe and McMinn counties.
Colloms took a political break during that career and served as Bradley County judge from September 1974 to September 1982 before that office was renamed county mayor.
On Thursday, after a working day in court, Colloms received applause from many attorneys, judges, relatives, staff members and others.
In 1974 Colloms was the only Republican elected in Bradley County.
"Things have changed a whole lot since 1974," Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee told the crowded room.
"Success did not come easy to him," Lee said. "He was one of 10 children. Nothing was ever handed to him."
"I didn't always win my cases before Judge Colloms," Lee said. "Sometimes I went back to my office and my client went to jail. But I never left feeling disappointed or that justice was not served."
State Rep. Eric Watson and state Sen. Mike Bell presented Colloms with a proclamation from the Tennessee House of Representatives to honor his "uncommon devotion and enthusiasm."
The honor took note of Colloms' role as a developer, too, from housing construction to nursing homes across the state. Colloms also has endowed scholarships at his alma maters, Tennessee Wesleyan College and University of Tennessee College of Law, as well as at Lee University.
"We are blessed to have a man with such a generous heart," said Judge Amy Reedy.
Attorney Bill Brown, speaking for the Bradley County Bar Association, said Colloms "has been very low-key. You haven't seen a lot of fanfare about Carl Colloms, but he has provided a great deal of service for us."
"There is some bittersweetness about today," Colloms said. "The sweetness is we all have a future. ... I leave with nothing but fond memories."