Portraits: Tom NoonanTom Noonan, 83, is a part-time bailiff with Cass County District Court. His job is to look after jurors, taking care of their needs and keeping them from contacting outside people, even on restroom breaks.
By: Michael Vosburg, INFORUM
Tom Noonan, 83, is a part-time bailiff with Cass County District Court. His job is to look after jurors, taking care of their needs and keeping them from contacting outside people, even on restroom breaks. “I like it. I get out of the house, you know. It’s interesting; a lot of the stuff,” he says. Still, Noonan likes to have fun and is known among his co-workers for his informal style. “Sometimes I’m not professional enough to these guys, but the jurors; a lot of them are pretty scared when they come in here,” he says. “I try to calm them down, tell them some dumb stuff. And I do. It works with them.” But being a bailiff is simply the latest job of many. Noonan, originally from Lisbon, N.D., joined the Navy at 17 and served for two years during World War II. While in the Philippines, he became a boxer, fighting against his shipmates. “I won all six fights,” he says. Afterward, he studied at Interstate Business College and what is now the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton. He worked for 17 years for Holsum Bakery. “I introduced Tombstone Pizza in this area,” he says. He was also a bookkeeper at Jensen Heating in Moorhead, sold windows and doors, worked in the State Crime Bureau Licensing Department and held several part-time jobs, including bartending. “I’d get tired of one job and go to another one,” he says. “I ran for sheriff in this county.” But Noonan was working in the scale house at American Crystal Sugar one harvest while Judge Michael McGuire was driving beet truck. “One day I asked him, ‘Hey, judge, how about a job over there at the courthouse?’ ‘Gosh darn. Right, Tom,’ he says. ‘You talk to me as soon as you get done here. Give me a call.’ Well, I got done, I come home, this was in the afternoon. There was a message on my phone. ‘Report to work the next day,’ ” Noonan says. That was 17 years ago. Now, Noonan has no immediate plans to change careers. “Not right now, no; unless something comes up.”