Retirement in the ‘records room’

Beth Sergent

August 16, 2013

POINT PLEASANT — “If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden,” - so wrote Frances Hodgson Burnett in the classic book “The Secret Garden.”

Yesterday, the records room at the Mason County Clerk’s Office was transformed into a garden of paper flowers, origami birds and bouquets of the the real deal to send off one of its fellow employees, Dottie Campbell, who retired after 22 years.

Some might argue (if argue is the appropriate word) that life is all about perspective and for Dottie, having a positive perspective has been the key to longevity - in short, she has learned to “look the right way” to see what others in the garden may simply pass by.

“Stay positive, be happy, keep working and find something interesting to do,” Dottie said about how she maintains her cheerful attitude - one that often resulted in her singing in the records room or dressing up as Lovey Howell from Gilligan’s Island for Halloween. She’s even been known to disguises her voice and call people incognito on the telephone to sing them happy birthday.

Dottie said though attitude is important, the main ingredient to a happy life is maintaining friendships. She said she’s had the same best friend, Ginny Neal, since she was 13 and they still meet for dinner each week, they bowl, they play Mexican Train and share an evolving history - history is important to Dottie. Of course, Dottie has a host of friends who include her coworkers, all of whom joked and said their favorite Dottie stories couldn’t be printed in this “family” newspaper.

Those friends/coworkers presented Dottie with a huge gift to open on Thursday which was wrapped with a map of Mason County, pictures of memories from work and even her birth certificate - she just turned 83, by the way. Inside this large box were several more to open and with each new box, Dottie was asked to share a memory before she tore off the wrapping paper.

There were many, including the time Dottie took a phone call from a woman in another area hoping to track down her family that was from Mason County. Dottie said the woman had little hope of finding that information but took a shot at asking Dottie if she recognized the name Eggenschwiller - not exactly a Mason County name, like Roush or Gibbs. Not only did Dottie recognize it, she knew where she’d read about it in a book about the Bend Area. That’s the thing with Dottie, though many people may not know her, she often knows who they are and know more about their history than they do. This is a skill typically only possessed by those who know how to “look the right way” in a garden.

Coworker Aimee Wilson said many times someone would come into the clerk’s office with a question about Mason County’s past or a genealogy question or any number of mysteries which Dottie, along with friend and coworker Anna Handley, never fail to solve. By the way, last year at Halloween, Anna dressed up as Thurston Howell, III, for Halloween to accompany Dottie as Lovey.

Dottie says she plans to enjoy her retirement and stay busy burning up the roads in her golf cart. She said she’ll miss her place in the records room and she has “thoroughly enjoyed” her adventure there.

In a way, it’s fitting Dottie sat alongside all those records, all those books of all those names and births and deaths and marriages, as a sort of gate keeper for the garden we all sometimes take for granted.