Satterfield remembered as serious public servant
St. Clair County lost a pioneer political leader Thursday as James Shirley Satterfield died at the age of 92. He was at the Marshall County Hospice in Albertville.

Satterfield entered the political arena as St. Clair County’s Tax Accessor on Jan. 13, 1959. It was a position he held until Jan. 14, 1971.

He was elected as St. Clair County Probate Judge, and served from Jan. 16, 1971 to Jan. 18, 1975.

Satterfield was then elected as St. Clair County Commission Chairman, and he served two different terms. He served from Jan. 19, 1975 to Jan. 15, 1979. He then served again from Jan. 18, 1983 until Jan. 17, 1987.

Satterfield is preceded in death by his wife, Mary Victoria McCormack Satterfield. He is survived by one son, Link Satterfield; one daughter, Brenda Satterfield Baker; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Ashville’s Lyman Lovejoy said Satterfield was a legend in his own time.

“He would help you do anything,” Lovejoy said. “Back in the day, you just didn’t run against him because you could not win. He was as good a people person as there was.”

St. Clair County Commission Chairman Stan Batemon said Satterfield was not only an icon in politics, but also a serious public servant.

“Even though he had his peculiar ways in some peoples’ minds, his motives were to always help those around him,” Batemon said. “He was always very nice to me, and I will always remember how he encouraged me when I entered the political world.”

Retired county administrator Joy Thompson said Satterfield was the most true Southern politician she ever knew.

“He was a person I owe for giving me a chance,” Thompson said. “He hired me when I was young, and I worked at the courthouse part time when I was in high school. He was a character of his own. What I always remember, was when he was in office, he made a point to talk to everyone who walked into the courthouse. He was a people person.

He was a good boss and friend.”

Sue Wilson worked with the county for 34 years, and was administrator when she retired in 1997. She worked with Satterfield in his first term as commission chairman.

“It was a challenge working with him, but he had his good points too,” Wilson said. “All the time we were working together, he never wanted to deal with the money. He was always in the business end of it. He always believed in the employees being nice to the public. Anytime we answered the phone, he didn’t believe in us saying, ‘I don’t know.’ If we didn’t know the answer to the question, we had to go find the answer.”

Wilson said she talked to Satterfield when he first got sick.

“He was glad to hear from me,” Wilson said. “We haven’t talked in several years. We always got along very well.”

St. Clair County Probate Judge Mike Bowling said Satterfield was a longtime resident of St. Clair County, and served in the political world.

“During my childhood, he served as probate judge and commission chairman,” Bowling said. “He was the type guy who would stop on the side of the road and help you.”

Bowling remembers hearing one particular story about Satterfield as he was driving through Shoal Creek Valley.

“He saw a guy trying to deliver a calf,” Bowling said. “Satterfield stopped, and with his shirt and tie on, helped the guy deliver the calf.”

St. Clair County Commissioner Paul Manning said he was blessed to have had the chance to work with and know Satterfield.

“I had the chance to go visit with him just a couple of weeks ago,” Manning said. “I had the honor and privilege of working with him for a couple of years. Some days may have been a little bumpy between his opinion and mine, but at the end of the day, we put it behind us. His goal was for the betterment of St. Clair County. He was a caring person. He loved the input of people and they appreciated him. He was always trying to help. No matter where you were, he cared about you.”

Manning said through the years, they managed to see a lot of activity in the county.

“The growth had begun at the end of his political term, and today, we are in a very fast-growing county,” Manning said. “I appreciate the opportunity to talk about a friend and co-worker. I had full respect for Shirley Satterfield.”

St. Clair County Commissioner Jeff Brown said Satterfield was just a special person.

“He has been around and done just a little bit of everything for this county,” Brown said. “He meant so much to our family and been part of our family. He has been a pillar of the community. He was just so well-known, and a great guy.”

Visitation for Satterfield will be Monday at Usrey Funeral Home in Pell City from 5 p.m.-9 p.m.

The funeral service will be Tuesday at 2 p.m. at First Baptist Church Ashville.

© 2013