Photo by Catherine Wynn
Kathy Gordon will leave Salem Housing Authority for the last time next week. She hasn’t missed too many days in her 49 years of employment there.
Graduating from Salem High School in 1965, she married her husband, Dick, an Eminence graduate, 54 years ago. Salem Housing Authority has been part of her life almost as long.
She worked for a short time at the Salem Shoe Factory.
Salem Housing Authority began March 8, 1967. SHA board member Wayne Gott, who owned Town & Country Supermarket, encouraged Gordon to apply for a position with SHA as a part-time secretary. She walked in her office on August 15, 1970, then in the basement of the old city hall building, and has been a part of the housing authority since that day.
She worked with three former directors, Leo McGrail, Tom League and James White. In 1972, 90 units were finished and Kathy, along with League, moved to the current location of the offices. In 1979, an additional 60 units were added.
Kathy became deputy director in 1999, and later became executive director in July of 2001, and continued serving in that capacity since.
Some of her favorite parts of the job are the people, she fondly said in a recent interview.
“I have always had an open door,” Kathy said. “I have always tried to listen.”
Tenants over the past five decades have appreciated the dependability.
“I think they (tenants) just appreciate the conversation and want to be heard,” said Gordon.
In the monthly newsletter for August, she shared the family sentiment she has felt for years at Salem Housing Authority.
“We have been one big family for a long time. I am indeed grateful and thankful for the friendship, love and many cherished memories I have received through the years,” she wrote.
Getting to know tenants over the past 49 years has been a blessing but also was hard sometimes. The years have brought happy moments, with weddings and birthdays, and sad moments of death and departure. Some tenants move away, which is difficult, but losing them to death was even harder, Gordon shared.
Technology has changed numerous times, from stylus and duplicators to typewriters and computers.
Gordon toiled over staying until 50 years, but decided to leave on a good note, as the authority had a clean audit this year with nearly perfect scores on inspections and high performance ratings.
When asked what her retirement plans were, she responded with a laugh.
“I’ve never done this before, so I don’t have any plans. I plan to take it a day at a time,” said Gordon. More gardening, antiquing, scrapbooking and family time with grandchildren and great-grandchildren are on her immediate agenda.
She is nervous about a new routine that doesn’t include the short drive to work and work hours.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes for the good, and I hope it progresses that way,” said Gordon of the future of Salem Housing Authority.
Melissa Mahurin will step in to Kathy Gordon’s place after next week, with Rhonda Thompson filling Mahurin’s current role. A position will be filled for a new administrative assistant in the coming weeks.
To celebrate Kathy Gordon’s retirement, an open house will be held 2 p.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 29 at Salem Housing Authority.