Circuit Judge E. McRae “Mack” Mathis has had a job since he was 10.
First it was selling newspapers for a dime, taking home a nickel of every one sold. Then at 12, as a bellhop. At 13, he became a disc jockey, joking he only had three listeners with one of them being his mother.
Later came time working at, then managing, the University of Florida campus bookstore while he attended school.
He went to law school at Memphis State University, which served as a springboard to his legal career. He worked with the state attorney’s office from 1976-99, then left after being appointed to the bench by former Gov. Jeb Bush.
January would mark his 39th year with the state.
He won’t be doing that, though.
Mathis submitted his retirement letter to Gov. Rick Scott, effective Dec. 31.
“Predominantly, I’ve enjoyed it,” Mathis said Monday, saying he had the opportunity to work with some of the better bench and Bar members during his time. “I have nothing but positive feelings … it’s been a real nice run.”
He said he’s contemplated the decision for several years. Turning 65 in October and entering what would be his 39th year, it was time, said Mathis, who is the husband of Karen Brune Mathis, managing editor of the Daily Record.
Chief Judge Donald Moran said the circuit was “very saddened” by Mathis’ decision but is happy he is leaving in good health.
“He’s got the best temperament and demeanor of anyone in this circuit,” Moran said, who also is retiring in January.
Moran called Mathis a “calming influence” during tough cases like divorces. Mathis served most of his time on the bench in family court.
It’s a reputation that has followed him outside the walls of the courthouse, said Harry Shorstein, the longtime state attorney who worked with Mathis during the latter part of his tenure. When he was appointed to the bench, Shorstein called it “a blow” to the state attorney’s office, but good for the circuit.
“He’s a person of the highest ethics and professionalism,” Shorstein said.