Mary Ellen Anderson never imagined she would work for more than 30 years as the treasurer, tax collector, and town clerk of Nobleboro when she was first appointed to those roles in 1983.
Thirty-three years later she is stepping back from the town office and getting ready to enjoy retirement.
Anderson has seen expansions to the town office and Nobleboro Central School and the additions of the town’s baseball field and transfer station. She has served with 16 different selectmen and 14 different combinations of selectmen since starting the job.
Now that the official date of her retirement, May 31, is drawing closer, Anderson said it feels bittersweet. She said it is nice to be retiring but acknowledged that she would miss the people she has worked with over the years.
“I’m in my lasts. My final year-end, final W-2s, final audit, final town meeting,” Anderson said.
However, Anderson was clear that if the incoming town clerk, Susan Pinnetti-Isabel, ever needs assistance, she would be available.
“I’ll just be a phone call away,” Anderson said.
Originally from Union, Anderson arrived in Nobleboro in 1976. Before joining the municipal government, she worked at Lake Pemaquid Campground.
Anderson said she had always done typing on the side, assisting with friends’ résumés, which led to her first role in town government.
She was first brought on board to type taxes utilizing a typewriter with a long carriage.
Prior to her start, the three positions she would go on to fill were all elected offices, which changed in 1982, when the town voted to make them appointed positions.
Anderson credited Selectman David Whitney for suggesting she apply for the open positions.
“I thought I couldn’t do all the stuff the job required, but he convinced me to apply,” Anderson said.
She also said Whitney was instrumental in her on-the-job education, as he urged her to take courses and attend conferences pertinent to her new role in Nobleboro.
“He said take all the classes and go to all the conventions you can,” Anderson said.
Anderson said other important assistance came from the town clerks of neighboring towns, who were available to help her as she learned the tricks of the trade.
“I called upon a lot of neighboring clerks when I first started out,” Anderson said.
She said Carol Pottle, the town clerk in Newcastle, was integral in assisting her as she learned the job in Nobleboro.
Anderson said that when Pottle’s daughter, Lynn Maloney, became the town clerk in Newcastle in April 1992, she was able to provide assistance to Maloney as she learned the job.
Over the next few months, Anderson will continue to lend similar assistance to Pinnetti-Isabel as she prepares to take over the role of town clerk in Nobleboro.
Anderson said she has no major plans for her initial retirement, but is looking forward to having the summer off.
“No definite plans – I will do some traveling but I’m going to take this summer off and take time to think about what’s next. I haven’t had a summer off in a long, long time,” Anderson said.
She said it will be nice not to have to plan her schedule around the busy times of the year for the municipal calendar.
Reflecting on her time as town clerk, she expressed appreciation toward the residents of Nobleboro and those who worked with her in the town government.
“They have been very gracious to me,” Anderson said.
Over those years a number of transitions have taken place in Nobleboro in addition to the construction of the baseball field and transfer station.
The town also saw a park-and-ride lot added on Route 1, the construction of a boat ramp on Pemaquid Pond, a bicentennial celebration, the fish ladder restoration project, the completion of a comprehensive plan, and 911 addressing for the entire town, to name a few of the changes around town.
The town office itself has come a long way, with two additions and a general transition from hand-writing checks to using computer networks and from hand-counting ballots to quickly tallying results with the help of voting machines.
Anderson said the elections, though work-intensive, were one of her favorite parts of her job.
“It’s nice to know the process is still there, even in little towns. We are lucky to have dedicated people willing to be ballot clerks,” Anderson said.
She also said she would not rule out future involvement in town government, but at this point, she does not think she would run for a seat on the board of selectmen.
“I’d consider being a ballot clerk or committee member but not a selectman right now,” Anderson said.
Anderson said her new found free time will also give her a chance to volunteer and work on side projects in the community.
“I’m going to have to do something, because I’ll miss the people,” Anderson said.
She said she has no intentions of leaving Nobleboro in the immediate future but realizes she may have to downsize at some point.
“This was my dream house. There’s a lot of local talent in that house, the work done by local bricklayers and artists,” Anderson said.
Anderson said she is retiring debt-free, something she was hoping to accomplish before leaving the town office.
“The main thing was to have the house paid for before I retired. It was a big thing for me, just to prove I could do it,” Anderson said.
The Nobleboro Selectmen Richard Spear, Al Lewis, and Bud Lewis recognized the work Anderson has done for the town in this year’s town report.
The selectmen noted their appreciation of the work Anderson, Pinnetti-Isabel, and Jodee Kelly do to keep the town office running smoothly.
Spear, who has served as a selectman for 13 years of Anderson’s tenure as town clerk, said she has been key to the operations of the town office.
“She’s been a huge asset to the town over the years,” Spear said.
He said Anderson’s ability to handle the town’s finances has been very beneficial.
“She is very knowledgeable and accurate in what she does,” Spear said.
He said since Anderson’s retirement was not abrupt, it has allowed Pinnetti-Isabel and Kelly to learn a great deal from her before she retires.
After Anderson’s final day on May 31 there will be a retirement party held on June 5 at the Damariscotta Lake Farm Restaurant in Jefferson.
Anderson said she is glad she had the opportunity to work in the town office.
“It’s always going to be a part of me. I did it for so long,” she said.