LAWRENCEVILLE -- Jock Connell's lunchtime jogs around Gwinnett's government complex will soon come to an end.
After serving as county administrator for the past five years, Connell will retire at the end of the month.
While the county's financial woes, tax debate and lawsuits over trash service and service delivery drew criticism during Connell's final year, to his co-workers, the proud University of Georgia alum was known for hard work, integrity and humbleness.
"It's been a calling for him," former Deputy County Administrator Mike Comer said at a recent retirement party. "Jock made Gwinnett county government better, and he made Gwinnett County better."
Connell said he was most proud of building a leadership staff with integrity, character and honesty. Another accomplishment he noted was implementing a performance-based model for the government.
"I got to do things I never dreamed I would get to do," he said. "It was clearly an incredibly difficult time to manage in. But I went in and my desire was to do things honestly, and ethically and morally, and I think I carried that out."
During the party, Connell, who began his career with the government in 1986 and served as finance director before becoming the county's first deputy county administrator, thanked his wife, co-workers and commissioners for their support over the years.
In giving advice to the leaders who remain, including new County Administrator Glenn Stephens, Connell talked about the essence of public service.
"Put others first," he said. "I think that's when great things happen. I think that's when this community achieves greater things than it ever has."
Stephens thanked Connell for supporting him both in his personal life and in his career.
"Jock has served Gwinnett and its citizens well in his capacity as county administrator by providing leadership through both good times and as we entered into some of the most challenging times this county has faced from a financial standpoint," Stephens said. "He is a man of integrity, honesty and of his word, all guided by his underlying principles anchored in his faith in God, a trait we share. Public service is a calling and Jock answered that call in Gwinnett and through his 23 years of service has more than answered that call."