Among the many things that make the city of Delaware great are the people who play their part daily, often behind the scenes, to ensure that remains the case. Linda Mathews has spent her entire career doing just that, and after 36 years of service to the Delaware community, a well-deserved retirement is now on her horizon.
A Bowling Green State University graduate, Mathews’ time working for the city began in 1978 and has included all sorts of titles and responsibilities. She began as a summer playground program director and then worked with the parks department, which included running the adult volleyball and youth softball and baseball programs. At one time, Mathews could also be found utilizing her Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to assist in snow removal around Delaware.
After becoming a full-time employee for the city in 1989, Mathews was a water meter reader and service technician for the Public Works Department. In 1996, she became the customer service liaison for the city’s public works and utility projects, which is where she has served Delaware up until her retirement last week.
A lengthy career with so many different responsibilities within the city didn’t happen by accident. Mathews said the decision to begin working full-time with the city was simple because she wanted to work for the city in which she was born and has lived her entire life. The customer service position suited her well, she said, because it was something she had done often in previous jobs she held.
“I was used to working with people, and I like to be a problem solver. So, you got to do those two together,” Mathews said of her appreciation for the customer liaison position. “I really like working with people, and in customer service, you get a lot of problems that need solved.”
She added, “I really like Delaware. Obviously, I could have left after college but I didn’t … Most of my family is here or in the general area, so I wanted to stay around.”
Asked what some of her fondest memories from her career have been, Mathews pointed to the special projects she has assisted with as part of serving on the special events committee.
“It came to an end, that’s the bad thing,” joked Public Works Superintendent Joe Bullis when asked about Mathews. Bullis has worked with and alongside Mathews longer than anyone in her career, spanning more than two decades.
“She eats, breathes, and lives Delaware,” Bullis said, adding her work habits and adoration for her job were second to none.
Expanding on her working habits, Bullis said Mathews had her bad days like everyone does, but even her bad days consisted of doing her work with quality and in a timely manner.
“Her drive factor, you don’t see that in 98 percent of the employees you work with,” he said.
Bullis went on to say that given her experience and knowledge, it’s not realistic to expect anyone to be able to take over the position and be able to operate with the same efficiency Mathews did.
“She was the unsung hero without the title,” he said, adding he always referred to her as a hidden director. “She made directors, superintendents, and leaders all look good at their jobs because of her assistance level and willingness to help everybody.”
Mathews said her decision to wrap up her career was partially due to some health issues. She said she is most looking forward to using her retirement to spend more time with her family, especially her nieces and nephews. She added she has friends who are already retired who she can now spend time with without the constraints of a work schedule.
Mathews, a big sports fan, also operates the clock at Ohio Wesleyan University basketball games, which she said she will continue to do in her retirement.
For someone who has always enjoyed the interactions with people her career has been filled with, Mathews fittingly said she would miss the people the most as she puts a bow on her career.
“I saw a lot of people come and go (through the years) and made some really good friends,” she said.
Mathews said she might initially miss the structure of knowing what each day will consist of, but went on to say she believes she’ll adjust just fine to making up her own schedule.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @ddavis_gazette.