On June 30, 1978, Richland County Assessor John Cloyd started his first day on the job where 100,000 properties were waiting to be reassessed.
He rolled up his sleeves, sharpened a pencil and got to work – without the assistance of a computer.
“I look back on all of it with the fondest memories,” Cloyd said. “It was so remarkable to watch all these changes and advancements happen in the County throughout the years.”
Cloyd has served 37 years as the Assessor for Richland County, the place where he was born and raised. He will retire Jan. 16 leaving a legacy of service to his community.
Cloyd oversaw the general reassessment of more than 100,000 properties seven times during his tenure and watched Richland County’s estimated value increase from $1 billion in 1982 to $23.5 billion today. He led his staff in a two-and-a-half-year effort to transfer hardcopy documents into a state-of-the-art computer program in 1979. He served under the direction of nine County Administrators.
“It has been a pleasure working with Mr. Cloyd for so many years,” said Richland County Administrator Tony McDonald. “His expertise in assessments, reassessments and appraisals has been beneficial to Richland County Government, as well as our residents.”
McDonald added that Cloyd’s influence extends beyond Richland County.
“Mr. Cloyd is oftentimes consulted by other jurisdictions for assistance and advice, as he is recognized as a leader and expert in his line of work,” McDonald said. “Mr. Cloyd’s retirement will leave behind an institutional knowledge void, and he will be greatly missed.”
Cloyd attests that hiring the right people for the right job allowed him to build a successful Assessor’s Office.
“You really have to find and hire the right people, the people who want to work for County government for the right reasons,” Cloyd said. “There are hundreds of thousands of people who depend on us for help every day. We affect their lives in major ways.”
Cloyd has been a part of the hiring process of all 32 current employees of the Richland County Assessor’s Office, all of whom speak kindly of his leadership.
“In my 36 years here, the office has transformed from a typical office to one in which employees take pride in what they do and strive every day to do it better,” said Lee Harrell, Richland County Manager of Mapping. “John has expected his employees to meet a certain level of performance, has led by example and leaves this office in the best shape it’s ever been.”
A regular adage of Cloyd’s is “Go forth and do good things,” with which he concluded every Monday morning staff meeting.
“To watch Mr. Cloyd arrive at work each morning at 8:30, dressed impeccably and having such a purpose each day – it set the tone for the method and quality of work that our office produces,” said Liz McDonald, Deputy Assessor for Administration. “He has a real sense of doing what is proper, as prescribed by law, and a passion to see that each customer is treated fairly.”
Originally an appraiser by trade, the only position Cloyd has held longer than that of Richland County Assessor is his status as an airman. He served with the Air Force and Air National Guard for 39 years, defending his country and traveling the world – an interest he hopes to continue in retirement.
Cloyd and his wife of 51 years, Cookie, are extensive world travelers, taking their two children and four grandchildren to Europe over the past few years. Upon his son’s return from a tour in Iraq, the two took a trip to Normandy, France, so his son, an infantry officer, could walk the beaches, which were infamous World War II battlegrounds, alongside his father.
In between their travels to Australia and Greece and their river tours down the Seine, the Cloyds will come home to Richland County, where they both grew up and raised their family, and where Cloyd has dedicated his career to serving residents.
“Nothing makes you feel better than to be able to help somebody,” he said.