By Carolyn Marnon – After 60 years with the City of Wayne, you would think DPW (Department of Public Works) Administration Assistant Patty Ditmore would be ready to move on to the golden years of retirement and all that retirement brings with it. It’s not happening.
“I like my job and the years go by and I have my health. As long as I have my health, I’ll keep on working,” says Mrs. Ditmore who started working for the City as a switchboard operator for the Finance Department. She stayed with the Finance Department for the next nine years before she came to DPW. With DPW, she spent 17 years at the office on Myrtle, another 17 years in the building next door to the current building, and has been in the present office since 2003.
“I have a great boss, Ed Queen, and I like the guys I work with.” Patty did note there is a female laborer who works on the roads, Barb Rose.
After growing up in Norwayne and graduating from St. Mary’s in Wayne, Patty says she’s never really left home.
Her husband, a retired Ford employee, is very supportive of her and her decision to work. She’s in the office 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday-Friday. “My job isn’t really exciting. I deal with the public and about 90% of them are nice.”
What does she consider exciting at the DPW? The explosion at Frank’s Furniture kept DPW busy as well as the incident at EQ Basin not that long ago. Also, when trees come down during storms and power is lost, she gets to coordinate clean up with the foremen.
Besides fire and police, DPW is so important to the city, Mrs. Ditmore says. Without DPW, sewers would be backed up and remain that way, streets wouldn’t be plowed, and water main breaks wouldn’t be attended to. She remembers when the few employees DPW has remaining had to deal with three water main breaks at one time, working 24-hours straight, PLUS there was snow. Ten years ago, there were 28 men taking care of the City. Now there are 10. Maybe they don’t take care of things as quickly as they used to, but they still take care of things. There are just priorities now.
When she’s not working, Patty enjoys reading fiction, especially murder mysteries and stories of intrigue. Her favorite authors are David Baldacci and John Grisham. She claims she has never read a romance novel. She likes to do paint-by-number art and work in her yard during the summer. Of course, she also likes baby-sitting her great-grandchildren, ages 5 and 10. Even though she loves to read, she doesn’t belong to a book club. “I don’t belong to anything. I don’t want to be tied down.” She goes on speaking from her work desk after 60 years, “It’s a contradiction, isn’t it?”
Some other activities Patty has been involved in include reading books on cassette for the blind and teaching catechism at St. Mary’s. She and her husband have taken trips and they have a cabin in Reed City where they go to commune with nature.
“Good afternoon! Public Works,” she answers the phone in the DPW building reception area where she has a desk. She watches the camera that is set up to view the recently renovated recycling area. Although she says the 7:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. hours are inconvenient for some people, she says the revisions to keep out trash are working.
“I don’t know what the future will bring,” Patty concludes as she prepares to leave work for the day. “If I retired, I couldn’t sit still.”