Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Communications announced and celebrated the retirement of Dorothy Brown Willis this week, with a party in her honor Thursday afternoon. Willis took the county’s first 911 call on January 19, 1988 – just 12 days into her career.

She was emotional as she sat surrounded by her coworkers.

“For 25 years, I’ve had children in and out of those doors,” she said. “Cause I’m there when nobody else is there – when a child is sick – when a husband ain’t acting right, when a wife’s not acting right.”

“It’s something deeper than just answering the phone,” she told them. “It’s praying – I pray for y’all everyday- everyday, I pray for y’all and I just thank God that he allowed me to come here to meet such wonderful people…”

She expressed her love for her coworkers and said it had been “an experienced” and that she had learned and grown from it, and had an opportunity to share God with them.

“I just thank God that I had the opportunity to leave something in your hearts and to leave a word that will come back to you,” Willis said.

Willis recalled working as a call taker for Houston Police before Montgomery County. She is still haunted by a call from a man at payphone who said, “He’s after me! He’s after me!” She then heard shots ring out and the phone drop, then nothing.

“I didn’t know where he was,” Willis said. “I never forget that call.”

However, Willis said, her most memorable 911 call was from a small child who sounded like he was playing.

“My mom is bleeding in the bathroom,” he said.

Willis asked if his mom was on the floor and he said, “Yes, ma’am.” Police arrived to find the child’s mother had been stabbed several times.

“That’s why you never take for granted a child is playing on the phone,” Willis said. “You have to listen to see what the child is talking about – although they sound playful, they might be saving a parent’s life.”

She was so devoted to her job, Willis sometimes arrived four hours before her shift was scheduled to begin.

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