DOBSON — On Jan. 12, Governor Roy Cooper formally announced two new judicial appointments for the North Carolina Court system.
He appointed Judge Donnie Hoover to Mecklenburg County District Court 26A and Gretchen Hollar Kirkman, a Surry County native, to replace retired Judge Charles M. Neaves Jr. As the district court judge for District 17B, to serve Surry and Stokes counties.
Cooper said, “These appointees will bring strong legal experience to their new appointments along with proven dedication to their communities. They will be valuable additions to our courts.”
Kirkman was born in Surry County, grew up in Dobson in the Surry County Schools System, and graduated from Surry Central High School. She holds degrees from Surry Community College at Dobson, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Wake Forrest 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 these 16 years.
On Jan. 30 at 8:30 am, Judge Charles M. Neaves Jr. held a private ceremony at the Surry County Courthouse to swear in Kirkman as his replacement for district court judge. Neaves joined the court in 1994 and has served faithfully as chief district court judge for 17B since 2007 until his retirement in 2017. He welcomed family members, Clerk of Court Teresa O’Dell and her staff, Judge Marion Boone, Assistant DA Abby Johnston, and fellow lawyers and court officials present to witness Kirkman’s acceptance of her new position.
Kirkman will be 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.
On Jan. 30 at 2 p.m., a formal ceremony open to the public was held at the Stokes County Courthouse in Danbury for Kirkman to be formally sworn in and recognized for her new position. Some 100 persons 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, Commissioners Mitchell and Hairston, District Attorney Ricky Bowman, court and DSS officials, Surry Sheriff Jimmy Combs and Stokes Sheriff Mike Marshall and law enforcement members, colleagues, friends, and dear family members.
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 as Kirkman assumes her new role of leadership. Southern then opened the floor for attendees to offer regards and to recognize Kirkman for her life of service to our judicial system. Kirkman made a moving speech thanking all present for their attendance and their continued support. She recognized her family, church ties, dear friends, and all distinguished guests that were present and acknowledged their nurturing guidance from her birth to the present.
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 brother Scott T. Hollar of Raleigh. Her grandparents Reba White and Lee Roy Hayes, now deceased, were life-time residents of Elkin along with several other family members still living in our area. Kirkman is married to Treva Kirkman of Mount Airy. They have two children, Lily Hayes Kirkman, 10, and Elizabeth Rose Kirkman, 7.