NORTH FULTON, Ga. – Retirement is usually a once-in-a-lifetime event. For Terry Joyner, he just had his fourth, which may not be his last.
Joyner has had the distinction of serving the community for 48 years, mostly in public safety and government. His first retirement was as Roswell’s police chief in 1981. His second was in 2002 as chief of security at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta base. In 2008, he retired as councilman from the Roswell City Council. Finally, on May 9, Joyner retired from the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety after eight years in service.
Joyner began his career in public service through unlikely beginnings as a photography technician in 1969 in Atlanta.
“One of my best customers was a crime scene photographer,” said Joyner. “No police departments had a crime lab in those days.”
Joyner would ride with this photographer and other officers to car wrecks to take photos of them. At that time, police departments did not have photographers on staff. Photographs of accidents were rare then, and Joyner made money on the side by selling his photos to attorneys and insurance companies.
“Pictures were very valuable back then,” he said.
Since he was well acquainted with the police of the area, it was easy to transition into a law enforcement career. In 1968, he joined the Roswell Police Department as a volunteer officer. He answered emergency calls.
“Things were much simpler back then,” he said. “We would go days and never get a call. We didn’t need a SWAT team.”
By 1970, he was a full-time officer in small-town Roswell.
“You could go all year and you may get a cutting. Shootings were rare,” he said. “One time a student made a bomb and set it off in the Roswell High School gym.”
A student had filled a grenade with black powder and set it off, blowing a hole in the school gym. No one was hurt, but Joyner said that sort of excitement was rare.
“Those were big deals back then,” he said.
Within 10 years, Joyner was named chief of police, a role he retired from in 1981 to work for airplane manufacturing giant Lockheed Martin in Marietta.
“Leaving Roswell was a hard decision to make,” he said. “When you get an offer from a company like Lockheed, you take it.”
While working there, Joyner still kept his ties with local police, working with them whenever dignitaries came by.
Joyner retired as chief of security in 2002. That was his second retirement.
While he was working with Lockheed Martin, Joyner entered a third career – as a politician. He ran successfully for Roswell City Council and served for 21 years, from 1987 – 2008.
“I felt like I could make a difference,” Joyner said. “It was a period of huge growth for Roswell. The new City Hall and Police Department were built during this time... my name is on just about every building we got.”
Joyner was instrumental in acquiring land for several of Roswell’s parks and introduced an ethics bill to Roswell, making the city one of the first in northern Georgia to have such a law. It was not in response to any wrongdoing, he said, but rather to head off any possibility of violations.
“I wanted to be proactive so if we ever had any problems we’d have a way of dealing with them,” he said.
Current Councilman Jerry Orlans served with Joyner for 16 years.
“I enjoyed working with him,” Orlans said. “He was always very straightforward and open with people and told it how he thought.”
Joyner’s time working for the city provided a unique perspective for governing, Orlans said.
“He had relationships with the employees and was conscious of their positions with the city,” Orlans said. “It gave him a good local viewpoint of things.”
Joyner left the public life in 2008. He had joined up with Alpharetta in 2004 as a full-time patrol officer.
“That’s really all I wanted to do up here,” he said. “I wanted to just work as an officer and enjoy it.”
Now, Joyner has no work to do for the first time in decades, having just retired from the police where he spent seven years.
Alpharetta Public Safety Director Gary George said Joyner will be missed.
“Officer Terry Joyner has provided decades of service to Georgia’s citizens as a police chief, city council member, head of security for a defense contractor and police officer. It is a fitting tribute that he ends his current career after serving seven years as an Alpharetta police officer,” George said. “I am so proud of Terry and all that he exemplifies by his work ethic and character. I value his friendship, and he will be sorely missed by me personally and his Alpharetta public safety family.”
Joyner is OK with retirement, he said. He’s got plenty to keep him busy.
“When you get to be 67 years old, you have to think of other things,” he said.
He enjoys working his ham radio, a hobby he has enjoyed since first taking it up more than 50 years ago. But as with anything he’s undertaken, he still has goals.
“There are still a lot of countries I have not made contact with,” he said.
Then there is fishing. He and his wife, Cynthia, have a second home in Steinhatchee (pronounced STEEN-Hatchee), Fla., where he has a fishing boat and is a licensed fishing guide. He frequently takes friends out fishing and charters tours.
“I’m going to enjoy my life now. Last year, I went to Alaska for five weeks [for the fishing]. If my life takes me to Alaska for five weeks again – bye!”