1000 x 90

Battling Lung Cancer, District Attorney Jerry Wilson Steps Down Months Before Planned Retirement

By Jesse Wood

April 1, 2014. Jerry Wilson, Republican district attorney for the 24th prosecutorial district, announced his retirement effective March 31 on Tuesday morning.

Wilson was initially slated to retire at the end of his term, which was set to expire after the upcoming general election in November, but a battle with lung cancer forced Wilson to expedite his retirement.  

Wilson filing for election several years ago.
Wilson filing for election several years ago.

“A few months ago I announced I would retired on the last day of this year. Unfortunately, medical problems have forced me to move my retirement date forward. March 31 marked my last day as District Attorney in the 24th District,” Wilson said in a statement. “I count it a special honor that the people of this district have allowed me to serve them as District Attorney and Prosecutor for over 30 years.” 

This morning the Watauga County Board of Commissioners mentioned the Wilson family and Jerry’s condition in a prayer led by Commissioner David Blust. 

This is grim news for the Wilson family that is already dealing with cancer. Wilson’s wife Karen just recently went through a “massive surgery” for cancer, Assistant DA Britt Springer said on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough few weeks,” Springer said, adding that Wilson informed staff at the District Attorney’s office on Monday of his situation and immediate retirement.

Wilson served in the District Attorney’s office for 32 years – with 20 of those years as assistant district attorney and 12 of those at the helm.

Springer, who has been assistant district attorney for the past 10 years, called the situation heartbreaking and said that Wilson has been a “wonderful DA, wonderful boss and wonderful friend and mentor.”

“He’s always done the right thing whether [or not] it’s been a publicly hard call. He’s basically taught me you’ve got to stand up for what the law says. It doesn’t matter what the public says. You’ve got to go by the law and the law only and treat everyone the same, whether it’s the highest person in the county or the lowest person in the county. He’s always instilled that in me and has been a great leader to follow because he does it by example,” Springer said.

“He’s never been political and it obviously has caused some heartache in his own party, but he’s always stayed out of the politics game and I’ve always appreciated that. When you come into the courtroom, it’s not who you know. It’s what is the right decision to do. I can’t say enough about Jerry,” Springer continued. “Some DAs are here for political reasons and some just want to do the right thing. Jerry always wanted to do the right thing. It’s been a pleasure to work for him.” 

As for an interim district attorney, Springer mentioned that a decision would come down from the governor’s office by as soon as 2 p.m. on Tuesday. She mentioned that Judge Alexander Lyerly could possibly take the position.