Extension service aide retires after 2 1/2 decades Retirement: Colleagues, friends and family gather to honor Doris McClelland, who served three directors.

November 03, 1997|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

She was the administrative right hand of a director who couldn't write legibly, another who couldn't hear too well and a third who couldn't find something just 30 seconds after he set it down.

Late last week, all three men and a number of friends and former and present colleagues gathered to honor Doris McClelland, 58, administrative aide at the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service for 25 years.

With her husband, Bill, sitting by her side, McClelland of Westminster marked her years of service and her retirement.

The day began as had many others. McClelland arrived at Carroll County Agriculture Center a few minutes before 8 a.m. and spent the morning opening mail, filing, making copies and completing invoices.

During lunch, McClelland -- obviously embarrassed by the attention -- said goodbye to people who had become a second family to her and accepted their good wishes for the future.

Extension director David L. Greene offered a humorous and touching tribute to their long friendship.

In August 1972, McClelland was a young mother of three who accepted a full-time job from former director Robert Jones.

`What a great bit of judgment it was on my part to seek you out," Jones said.

McClelland and Greene started work the same day.

At that time, farmers depended heavily on the extension service to provide the latest agricultural information and help them make important business decisions.

McClelland, Greene, longtime Carroll County 4-H Agent Robert Shirley and former extension secretary Beverly Abbott chuckled frequently as they recalled some of the office's more eccentric "regulars."

Though many staffers were reduced to giggles by some of the stranger requests the office received, her colleagues said McClelland always managed to keep her professional demeanor -- at least until the client was gone.

After years in the office, McClelland could easily identify those people who, though well-meaning, could waste a co-worker's time. She became quite accomplished at drawing staffers away with phantom phone calls or meetings if she saw a client was having trouble letting them get back to work.

McClelland said it was the wonderful people she met and worked with that kept her in her job for a quarter century.

When she started, office workers were not computer-literate. A proclamation from the Carroll County Commissioners on her behalf noted that McClelland had "introduced innovative accounting programs and reporting methods" among her other contributions.

Over time, she watched the clientele change. As farming became a secondary occupation in Carroll County, more suburban residents have turned to the extension service for assistance and to enroll their children in the 4-H program.

McClelland did not seek the leadership role that was thrust upon her over the years, said former county director Walter Bay.

But as an aide to two county directors and a willing helper to a third, she became a matriarch of sorts to the rest of the staff. The young secretaries and fledgling agents, elderly farmers and inexperienced newspaper reporters all learned to turn to McClelland for cheerful assistance.

Though she worries that she will miss the daily challenges of her longtime job -- "you did something different every day" -- McClelland has promised to work two half-days each week at the family business, B and D Truck Hoist, owned by her husband and two of their children.

She also has travel plans, walls to be papered and gardens to be planted -- not to mention grandchildren to baby-sit and community projects to attend to.

If none of that proves fulfilling, McClelland's good friend and co-worker, Bonnie Graham, had some advice.

"You know we love to work with volunteers," Graham said, as the other secretaries nodded their agreement.

Pub Date: 11/03/97

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