Death, in the Digital Age

Gerarda Culipher | Culipher for Clerk

Both you and I have been touched by loss. Sometimes, it is a world-shattering tragedy; other times, it feels like a great mercy for a loved one who has suffered so long. We can have a range of reactions to death: disbelief, belief, and sometimes even relief. Loss is not a math equation; computer systems don’t mourn. As John Dunne so beautifully penned, “Any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind.”

Your Fairfax Probate Clerks work with the grieving every day. Clerks witness and memorialize many joys into the public record: marriages, adoptions, first homes, and won cases. But we also run the Probate Office, which is the governmental landing place for the transactional next steps when a resident of Fairfax passes away. Our Probate staff have a very special calling: serving the families arriving to administer their loved one’s estate, under Title 64.2 of the Code of Virginia.

It is not that we serve, but how we serve, that is the measure of our performance. Sure, we have objective metrics that tell the citizenry just how many probate appointments we take every day, and how short the wait time is.

But it is the subjective, not just the objective, measures that matter most to me as the leader of the Fairfax Clerk’s Office. Our Probate Clerks know that our customers are often still stunned, overwhelmed, and may also be aging in their own right.

During the Pandemic, our office never closed but swiftly pivoted to “Virtual Appointments” for probate, marriage, and other licensure applications. Grieving families who were losing loved ones to COVID had the added challenge of lockdowns, travel restrictions, and isolation timelines, which made travel to our Fairfax Courthouse impossible. Through our smart and agile service-delivery philosophy and our solution-oriented staff, the Fairfax Clerk made the impossible… possible. Uninterrupted service, novel service-delivery, and a paradigm shift in local court administration, was the order of the day.

In Fairfax, we’ve embraced this paradigm shift; keeping Virtual Probate Appointments, precisely because heirs are often located all over the world. Yes, appointments conducted remotely with us, save families time, money, and stress. My vision for the future of our Clerk’s Office is to further expand these Virtual Clerk appointments, so that you can conduct more of your courthouse business from the comfort of your home, including an expansion of our E-filing and E-recording services that we’ve already pioneered.

In Fairfax, we serve with Heart and Head. Call this a campaign promise, if you must: I will lead our talented staff of 180 public servants with Heart and Head, teaching the newest workforce both empathy and fluency, and innovating with the customer’s experience, as our priority. This is your life, your family, your parents, your spouse, your tears, your loss, your grief, and your records. You are our priority. VOTE with your HEART and your HEAD. Vote Culipher for Clerk!

Gerarda Culipher is the Fairfax GOP nominee for Clerk of Court. To learn more, visit

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