There could be no more fitting tribute to former Superior Court Judge Doug Parsons than naming the Sampson County Courthouse Extension Building in his memory.
It is our hope that county commissioners, who received a resolution from the Sampson County Bar Association earlier this week to do just that, won’t back-burner a decision on the matter too long.
Commissioners have an opportunity to do something special in naming the Courthouse Extension the “W. Douglas Parsons Judicial Building,” an honor that would clearly show their appreciation for a man who dedicated his life to Sampson County and the judicial system here and beyond.
Parsons, who served as Superior Court judge for Judicial District 4A, died unexpectedly on Sept. 24, 2017, five years into his judgeship. He left behind a legacy of service to his community and the justice system he dearly loved. Professionally he served as an assistant district attorney, a trial lawyer, a U.S. attorney, a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and finally a Superior Court judge. Personally he has been a former trustee at Sampson Community College, a former commissioner on the N.C. Wildlife Commission and a lifelong member of First United Methodist Church in Clinton, where he served in a variety of capacities.
Perhaps most importantly, Parsons simply loved Sampson County, worked hard to represent it well and give back to his home in as many ways as he could. Naming a building where justice is served after him would be apropos, and it is something we wholeheartedly support.
Commissioners should do the same.
While we acknowledge Chairman Clark Wooten’s assertion that taking this step would set a precedent for commissioners, we don’t think that should be a deterrent to making a bold and deserving move. Certainly parameters would need to be set so that county buildings would not be named willy-nilly. While many among us deserve honors, tributes and memorials of some kind, a far higher threshold should have to be crossed for a county to consider naming one of its buildings in a person’s honor or memory.
Parson’s history of service and the fact that he was a sitting judge at the time of his death, among other things, certainly rises to that level.
Commissioners appear to understand that, on the one hand. “All of the things you have said about Judge Parsons are true and well-deserved,” Wooten told Bar Association members during the commissioners meeting earlier this week.
We hope that will be the starting point for commissioners’ discussion about the naming. If what has been said about Parsons is true, as it is, and if the accolades he received during his lifetime are well-deserved, then the county board should see its way clear to a decision that, though precedent-setting, would be the right thing to do.