Carroll County Times

Dinah Riley retiring after 27 years in Sykesville Town House

Dinah Riley works at the Sykesville Town House Oct. 3. Riley is retiring from her position as administrative assistant after 27 years on the job.

For nearly three decades Dinah Riley has been a friendly, smiling face around the Sykesville Town House. Town employees and residents alike have come to know her and look forward to seeing her around, but now, after 27 years, Riley is retiring from her position as administrative assistant.

Riley's co-workers said her knowledge of Sykesville's history and the way the town works will be lost when she leaves, and the town won't be the same.

"We will miss her deeply and it will be hard to replace her knowledge of local government issues, and the great way that she works with people," said Public Works Director Ron Esworthy.

Gidget Gill, who is in training to take over Riley's position, said she has been taking detailed notes and trying to absorb as much of Riley's knowledge as possible.

"I wish there was another word to use other than 'replacement,' because she can't be replaced," Gill said. "She has very big shoes to fill."

In 1985 Riley was hired as a part-time employee to help the Sykesville town manager at the time complete administrative tasks, as the town began to experience a revitalization.

Each day of work she would commute to the Town House from her home right outside of Sykesville's incorporated limits, she said. Over the years as the town grew, Riley began to work longer hours and her position eventually transitioned to full-time.

In the early years, Riley met Sykesville residents when they came into the Town House to pay their taxes, she said. Some still come in for various reasons, and throughout the years she continued to create relationships with community residents and business owners, as she watched the town change before her eyes.

With all the change came more work and more responsibility for everyone in the Town House, Riley said.

"It has been an educational experience just watching the Town of Sykesville grow and Main Street grow. I've loved it all," she said. "Overall, you might call it a labor of love."

Aside from the wide scope of her knowledge, Town Clerk Janice Perrault said everyone in the Town House will mostly miss Riley because of her kindness and warm personality.

"She's just an amazing woman. She's strong, knowledgeable, caring, and just a well-rounded, wonderful person," Perrault said. "All the positive adjectives you can think of, that's Dinah."

Riley's retirement will be bittersweet for everyone in town, according to Ivy Wells, Main Street manager and director of economic development.

"I don't think I've met anyone as nice a person as Dinah is - she's a jewel," Wells said. "We'll be very said to see her go, but I'm happy for her to finally be retiring. She's done a fantastic job and she deserves it."

Riley's daughters, Kelli Kemp and Melissa Shipley, said they weren't sure their mother would ever actually retire.

In August of 2004, Riley was diagnosed with colon cancer, Kemp said. She wanted to continue working, but she had to undergo surgery and six months of chemotherapy treatments.

Ultimately, she missed about nine months of work, the only time she had ever missed other than vacations.

"I thought for sure that shortly after she got back to work she would consider retiring within the next year or two after that, but she had other plans," Kemp said. "She gradually got back to work after the treatments and never looked back."

Riley's daughters described her as determined and dedicated in all that she does, even stubborn at times, but they said she has always made both her job and family high priorities.

"Mom has always been able to really balance between work and home but has always known the importance of her job with the town," Shipley said. "I do know that the entire time that she was out for her recovery time, it wasn't only to recover, but she wanted to go back and keep working."

She was so dedicated to her job, that they stopped believing her every time she said she was thinking about retiring.

"I kept saying, 'Mom, until you have a date I'm not going to believe it,'" Kemp said.

But Riley finally did set a date, and her last day as administrative assistant for the Town of Sykesville will be Friday, Oct. 12.

Riley said she has mixed emotions about her retirement. She is sad to leave her second home, but she is excited for what lies ahead.

So far she has a Myrtle Beach vacation planned, and she said she is looking forward to spending more time with her husband, children and grandchildren, volunteering, and maybe even taking a few classes at the community college.

After all of these years, she said she is finally ready to move on, but she won't be leaving the town cold turkey.

"I'll be 70 in December, so I feel like it's time, but it will be a big adjustment," Riley said. "I'll be popping in to visit and to say hello. I can't just leave and never look back."