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Seeley retires after 30 years on bench

After serving 30 years on the bench as the First Judicial District Circuit judge, Thomas Seeley, Jr., retired the gavel on June 30.
Seeley had the opportunity to speak with many members of the Unicoi County community, where he served as a county attorney in 1976, during a reception held in his honor at the Unicoi Tourist Information Center on Thursday, July 23.
“It has been awhile,” he said. “It is just great to relive old memories and see people that meant a lot to me over the years.”
Thursday’s event was moderated by Town of Unicoi Attorney Lois Shults-Davis. During the event attendees had the opportunity to relive Seeley’s illustrious career. The former judge received different items from individuals, including proclamations from Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch, Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley and the state. Seeley also received a photo of Unaka Mountain taken by Unicoi County Circuit Court Clerk Darren Shelton from attorney Sarah Shults.
“The best years of my life were here in Erwin raising my children,” Seeley said to the packed house inside the center.
Seeley started his law career in Unicoi County in 1974 during 11 “good years” in private practice. In 1985, Seeley was appointed to the Circuit Court Judge by then state governor Lamar Alexander. After being appointed in 1985, Seeley returned to the bench in 1986 and won re-election bids for eight year terms in 1990, 1998 and 2006.
Seeley is a native of Roanoke, Va., and received his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University. Following his time in Florida, he received his law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1970 before beginning his career.
The time was enjoyable behind the seat, according to Seeley, but the retirement life hasn’t been too bad, either.
“I’m enjoying my time off and enjoying time with my grandchildren,” Seeley said. “I still plan on doing some work to keep my hand in the legal system a little bit. It is hard to shut down completely.
“I really enjoyed being judge and trying cases … I was doing exactly what I always wanted to do.”