Robinson Leaves Town Hall After 19 Years

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Board of Selectmen News

Just a couple of weeks before Robinson’s final day in town hall, Congressman Bill Keating was here examining the impact from the July 23 tornado and he took time to stop by and wish her a happy retirement. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH — Sandy Robinson remembers well the day she was offered the job working in the administration/selectmen’s office in town hall 19 years ago.

“Assistant town administrator Juell Buckwold called to offer me the job and I said my first grandchild is about to be born any minute,” Robinson responded. “Now she’s in her second year in college. It’s like a lifetime in the blink of an eye.”

But, the executive assistant to the town administrator said on Thursday, the day before she retired “It’s been a good run for me.”

During those 19 years Robinson worked for every town administrator the town has had. She was hired under the first town administrator, Wayne Melville, worked under temporary town administrators Steve Lombard and Robert Lawton, and subsequent town administrators James Merriam and Christopher Clark. Every one of them was unique, Robinson said.

Her 19 years in town hall provided an education, she said. She has learned a lot about government, the town charter and the way boards and committees function.

“I think about how much more I know about the town I live in than my neighbors do and how much more I know about this town than the town I lived in before,” she said. “I know so much about the town of Harwich, I might even go to town meeting next year.”

Robinson had a rough start 19 years ago, but said she had help navigating the learning curve. “For 18 years I worked along side Ann Steidel, who made my life so much easier,” Robinson said.

She also praised fellow town hall workers, pointing out while they had a lot to do, they were always willing to stop if she needed help. “It’s a family here,” Robinson said.

“I enjoyed working with Chris (Clark). We had a good working relationship. He’s respectful and nice to everyone who works for him and we got a lot done,” Robinson said.

“I think she has embodied a kindness and professionalism you don’t always see in employees,” Clark said of Robinson. “I’m happy she is retiring, but sad she’ll not be part of the team any longer.”

When asked about her fondest memories over her tenure, Robinson said there are too many.

“It’s mostly the people I’ve met,” she said. “Hopefully we helped the people who came in. I’ll miss all of these people.”

Robinson said she doesn’t have a retirement plan, that she hasn’t had time to think about it because she’s been busy getting her replacement, Patti Macura, up to speed.

“I’m going to take a break. I’ll be out at the beach,” she said. “I’m going to enjoy the rest of the summer and fall before I formulate a plan. But it’s a little daunting knowing I don’t have to get up and go to work.”

Robinson said she's been working since she was 15 years old. She was educated to become a teacher, but she didn’t follow that road. Instead she worked for a temp agency as a secretary, which was a lot of fun because the jobs were always changing, she said. Before coming to Harwich, Robinson worked as a construction company secretary for the firm that built the Providence Mall. But she'd been coming to the Cape for years and was drawn to Harwich.

“I love Harwich and I wouldn’t live anywhere else,” Robinson said. “It’s a great place and I’m very happy here. I couldn’t feel more fortunate.”

While Robinson closed the door on her career on Friday, she said her husband David, a retired teacher, will continue to serve the town as a constable. “I made him do it, because sometimes it was hard to find a constable,” she said. “But he enjoys it.”

It was a quiet departure from town hall on Friday. Robinson's fellow employees came together to wish her farewell.

“I don’t like the fanfare, it’s not me,” Robinson said of having a big retirement event. “I’ll leave the way I came, through the door.”