Julie Boydston has worked at the same job since graduating from high school.

Julie Boydston has worked at the same job since graduating from high school.

In 1976, she started out simply as a court cashier at Independence Municipal Court. Thirty-four years later, she’s worked in every Municipal Court departmental role, including 13 years as the municipal court administrator.  

Boydston accepted the 12th annual Susan Paxton Block Distinguished Public Service Award Monday night before the Independence City Council.

“She’s credited with innovations in the court system and shows respect for all individuals who come through the municipal court system,” said Karen Penrod, Junior Service League past president and the 2010 award selection committee chairwoman. “She is the answer person for the court system. … Word has it that her knowledge of the Independence court system is legendary.”

Former Independence School District director of community relations and civic volunteer Roberta “Poo” Coker nominated Boydston after knowing her for 18 years. Because the two are former neighbors, Coker said she learned throughout the years about Boydston’s job and its responsibilities.

“A couple of years ago, I thought, ‘Maybe she’s doing more than she’s really telling me,’ ” Coker said. “Julie strikes me as the same kind of person as Susie Block.”  

District 3 Council Member Susan “Susie” Paxton Block served from 1992 until her death in November 1996. Her father, the late Bill Paxton, established the annual award to honor Susie’s memory and to recognize individuals who demonstrate excellence in city government.

Coker said she interviewed several of Boydston’s co-workers to learn more about her job and then discovered “this was a good choice” for a nomination.  

“Sometimes, the people she gets in her job are not always happy to be there, but she always treats them with dignity,” Coker said. “I think somebody who’s done her job for 34 years and has done all of the jobs and still goes to work with the same enthusiasm each day is a good model of what Susie Block was.”

Friends and co-workers described Boydston as more of a quiet leader. She was brief in her remarks Monday night, saying she was surprised to receive the award and calling her role as court administrator “a challenging and rewarding position.”

Her husband of 29 years, Kevin Boydston, said Julie Boydston goes to work each day with a job to accomplish, and she accepts the responsibility.  

“She’s a problem solver, and that shows in her character,” Kevin said. “She could easily give up, but she works with her subordinates to develop a plan that works for everyone.”

Like Julie, Kevin was surprised that Julie was named the 2010 award recipient, “but I knew she deserved it,” Kevin said.

“She works hard – and she works smart,” he said, adding that his wife is finally receiving the credit she deserves. “There’s a difference between working hard and working smart.”