By LISA WHALEY
Tears are flowing freely at Town Hall this week as administrators, staff and the community prepare to say farewell to a longtime fixture at 123 Boone Street.
“You’re the linchpin,” Mayor Kelly Wolfe told Virginia Causey before an audience at Monday night’s Board of Mayor & Aldermen meeting when Wolfe declared Friday, March 17 — Causey’s last day as a town employee — as Virginia Causey Day in her honor.
“We love you, Virginia. You’re heart is as big as this room if not bigger. And I can’t help but think that the culture of this town has been profoundly influenced by (you).”
Causey will retire after almost 40 years with the town, getting her start many years ago in the two-room old town hall now occupied by Jonesborough’s Corner Cup.
That was back in 1971, she said, and little did she realize the adventure and the strong relationships that waited ahead.
“At that time, I was the only female that worked for the town,” Causey recalled. Everything was done by hand and Causey not only took care of town business, she also fielded fire and police calls — sort of a one-woman operation. When Causey and her husband, Bud, adopted their son, Frankie, she quit to spend more time with her family.
But the lure of Town Hall couldn’t be denied and Causey returned in 1983, dedicated to the well-being of staff and community every since.
She loves this town, she said, which has been her home for her entire life. And she tries to hold tight to her belief that she must treat everyone she encounters with love, patience and kindness.
In that pursuit, Causey has become “mom” to more staff members than she can list, and they have become her family, she admits. “Since I’ve been working here, I’ve lost so many family members,” she said. “My mom. My dad. My brother. My sister. It’s so different here, how everyone just engulfs you.”
That, Causey said, is why it has taken her so long to finally retire. She had been talking about it since turning 65. Causey turns 69 today.
“Bud and I have been married for over 50 years,” she said. “We’ve known each other all our lives because he lived beside me growing up.”
Still she hesitated, until this past September, as she and her husband were talking. “Bud said to me ‘You will never set a day. You’re going to work until one off us dies.’” Causey recalled. “After he went to bed that night I went in there and started to write my letter of retirement. It’s just time.”
But that doesn’t mean it’s easy — this decision that Causey calls one of the hardest of her life.
“I love all these employees,” she said simply. “I’ve worked with so many of them. I’ve nurtured them. I’ve been with them through divorce. I’ve been with them through sickness. I’ve been with them through births.”
And these employees have loved her back.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for me,” Town Operations Manager Craig Ford wrote earlier this week. “Your guidance and encouragement have helped me so many times. May God bless you in your retirement as you have blessed me.”
Other comments were just as inspiring.
“Virginia is like your best friend, mother, guardian angel and Number 1 supporter all rolled into one,” said Town Administrator Bob Browning.
“I have worked with Virginia for over 27 years,” wrote Lorena Cradduck. “During this time she has demonstrated over and over that she truly cares for all employees for the town and our citizens regardless of the situation. Her little shoes will be hard to fill.”
As for Causey’s sidekick and work “sister” Donna Freeman, her message have summed it up best.
“Thanks for all the memories and fun times,” she wrote. “Love ya!”