By Inge Schaefer
Annoying. Nag. Could those be the words used to describe a friend, co-worker and parent? And, especially, could those be the words uttered about our beloved, well-respected and retiring Town Clerk/Treasurer Karen Richard? Yet “annoying” was the word used by Senator Dick Mazza as he talked about the persistent, unrelenting efforts by Richard to get legislation through that was important to Vermont’s towns and cities. Sen. Mazza at the June 25 retirement gathering at the Hampton Inn, said, “Karen (Richard) always gets what she wants . . . for instance, the Vital Records Bill in the legislature this year. Somehow she got it attached to the big bill (the Budget bill) and it passed!” With tongue in cheek, he continued: “Karen annoyed me at least once or twice a week until she got what she wanted.”
While jesting about her annoying and unwavering loyalty to the needs of the Vermont Municipal Clerks and Treasurers Association and her own community, Sen. Mazza did seem relieved that perhaps she would not be back to the legislature next year. Before he left the podium, however, it was clear that should there be a need, Karen would again be visiting the State House. Karen and the crowd attending her retirement party at the Hampton clearly loved every minute of Mazza’s ribbing.
In between the annoying and nag references, others stepped up to speak of her long record of service to the town, first in the Assessor’s office, then as lister and twenty years as town clerk. Under her watch, the town records for public access were digitized and Colchester was one of the first towns in the State to put their land records online. The Town’s antiquated and inadequate voting machines were also replaced in order to have more reliable voting records and tabulation. She has chaired the Vermont Municipal Clerks and Treasurers’ Legislative Committee for ten years . . . during which I suspect she and Sen. Mazza became good friends. A longtime volunteer for the Champlain Water District Board of Commissioners, and currently chair of that board, Karen has also served on the Vermont League of Cities and Towns Board. She is a recipient of the Town Clerk and Town Treasurer awards from the VMCTA.
Letters of recognition were presented to Karen from the Washington legislative delegation, and accolades were shared from the Vermont League of Cities and Towns, Jim Faye of the Champlain Water District, David Coates, along with newly named Town Manager Aaron Frank, who acknowledged the presence of past managers Dawn Francis and Al Voegele, who also attended the event.
Annoying was a surprising enough descriptor, but who would dare to call our esteemed Town Clerk and Treasurer a nag? Why, her children, of course. Christine and Suzie several times referred to their Mom – with pride and conviction – as a “nagging mother, who rarely took ‘no’ for an answer.” Her nagging – urging them to always do the very best that they could – carried them through to the successful career and family members that they are today. Needless to say, eyes were not dry at the Richard table.
Julie Graeter, the town’s new Town Clerk/Treasurer and the entire Clerk’s office staff ended the evening by sharing a lovingly prepared slide presentation and poem entitled “The Many Faces of Karen.”
After being referred to as an annoying nag most of the evening, Karen was gracious in her thanks to everyone in the room and several who were not – acknowledging the support of Dick Paquette, Roger Derby and especially Joyce Sweeney, all now deceased. As our 29th Clerk/Treasurer, Karen clearly will rank among our most distinquished past town clerks – not the least of which was our first, Ira Allen who served in 1793. Thank you for your service, Karen, and God’s speed.