MANATEE -- As Angelina "Angel" Colonneso stood near, Manatee Circuit Judge Edward Nicholas said he wanted to say what everyone in the courtroom was thinking.
"No doubt Chips would be incredibly proud as he looks down upon his protege and his friend, who is now about to take the oath of office," the judge told a crowd of Colonneso's family members and supporters.
Colonneso, of Bradenton, was officially sworn in Friday as Manatee County's first female clerk of the circuit court. The 47-year-old had been serving as interim clerk for Manatee County until appointed to the position last week by Gov. Rick Scott.
The moment was even more meaningful because it happened inside the R.B. Chips Shore Historical Courtroom, named after Colonneso's predecessor and the man who helped prepare her for this position.
Shore served as county clerk of court and comptroller from 1977 until his death in late July. He was 74.
After being sworn in, Colonneso thanked judges, hers and Shore's family, court employees -- and the late Shore.
"He hired me as a college student and he was my biggest cheerleader next to my parents. He even made sure when I returned home on my summer breaks from law school that I had a summer job working in the office," Colonneso said.
Shore allowed her to grow professionally, she said. Thanks to him, Colonneso said she pushed herself beyond what she ever thought possible.
"I will be eternally grateful to him and I hope to follow in his example," she said.
Colonneso's parents, Jim Colonneso, 71, and Millie Colonneso, 70, were at the ceremony. Tears rolled down Millie's cheeks as she watched their daughter be sworn in.
"I'm really proud of her," Jim said. "She came a long way and she's worked hard for this."
Millie said their daughter had wanted to be a lawyer since the sixth grade and "just kept at it."
"And when this opportunity came along, she just saw it as another challenge and she's really excited to do something like this," Millie said.
According to Millie, Shore was hoping Colonneso would take his place when he retired.
"He's the one that really groomed her and instilled in her what to do," Jim added. "Sort of like handpicked her."
After the ceremony, Colonneso said she felt a lot of emotion.
"It's almost surreal," she said. "I took a field trip here as a child."
Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant, one of many who stood in line to congratulate Colonneso, said she was "very pleased" Shore's legacy continued.
"Having worked closely with him (Shore), I think he's instilled that in her," she said of Colonneso. "Having grown up here, I think she has a lot of the same feelings about the community and the heritage and the history and everything. I think she's an outstanding person and I'm just delighted that she's going to pick that torch up and keep moving forward."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.