City Clerk Ruth Fraser and Real Estate Assessor Jerry Banagan to Retire

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

​It's pure coincidence that two of Virginia Beach's longest serving appointed officials have separately decided to retire.

With 84 years of service between them, it may not come as much of surprise that City Clerk Ruth Smith Fraser and Real Estate Assessor Jerry Banagan have notified the Mayor and City Council of their plans to retire at the end of the year. Still, their departures will create some voids that will be difficult to fill.  

Before Ruth was appointed as Virginia Beach's city clerk in 1978, she held positions with the Tidewater Virginia Development Council, MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Tidewater Small Business Investment Corporation, Nepratex Industries, Lone Star Life Insurance Company, and with the Norfolk/Chesapeake Board of Realtors. As city clerk, Ruth provides a historical record of the governing body (some records date as early as the 1860s); prepares and distributes the City Council Agenda, Minutes and Summary of Action; provides administrative services to City Council and the citizens; and attests to all official documents, ensuring compliance with legislative law and City Council actions.

Ruth also administers all Sister City activities and coordinates cultural, economic, educational and other partnership exchanges. She is very active in the Order of the Eastern Star and volunteers with the International Institute of Municipal Clerks.

"I am so proud to have served the citizens of Virginia Beach through the governing body and I treasure the international friendships I have formed with people from the five Sister Cities and one Friendship City in Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland, Norway and The Philippines," said Ruth. "Virginia Beach truly is the greatest city in the world and one I love…almost as much as I love my Sparkles Noel [her dog]. However, since I do not want to be working when I am 90, I have advised the Mayor and City Council Members that I will be taking advantage of the retirement I have been working toward all these years — 17 and a half before I became Virginia Beach's city clerk 39 years ago."

Jerry Banagan began his career as an entry-level appraiser in July 1972 and was appointed to the real estate assessor position on March 1, 1983. He earned a business degree from Virginia Tech and a Master of Public Administration degree from Old Dominion University.  Born in Norfolk County, he moved to Princess Anne County in 1960 and is a graduate of Princess Anne High School. 

"It has been an honor and a privilege to have served our citizens and City Council all these years," said Banagan, who earned credentials as an Accredited Senior Appraiser by the American Society of Appraisers. He is also a past president of the Virginia Association of Assessing Officers. "I hope my efforts to provide fair and equitable assessments have been considered productive. I have certainly seen our city grow and mature tremendously during my tenure," he said.

During a closed session during today's City Council meeting, Mayor Will Sessoms thanked both officers for their decades of service.

"Ruth and Jerry are widely respected in their fields, and we will surely miss their institutional knowledge," Sessoms said. "To say that Ruth Smith is the city's institutional memory would be an understatement. As city clerk and president of the Virginia Beach Sister Cities Association, Ruth has served the governing boards of this city with distinction and dedication. She is the epitome of what it means to be in public service and while we are going to miss her here, I am happy to say she will continue to work with Sister Cities," he said.  

"Jerry has been the 'keeper of the data' when it comes to real estate in Virginia Beach," Mayor Sessoms continued. "Every year, we would anxiously await his reports to find out if values have risen or fallen. Through all of the ups and downs, Jerry has worked to ensure our citizens receive accurate assessments of their most valuable assets. We wish them both continued health and happiness in their retirements."

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