It’s been a memorable 23 years for Stephenville City Secretary Cindy Stafford.
During her time at City Hall she has worked for five city administrators, six mayors and 49 council members.
But her time helping to manage city business is coming to an end.
Stafford recently announced her retirement, and her last day with the city will be Friday, July 14.
Asked what she plans to do with all that time to herself she will soon have, Stafford deadpanned, “I have no idea.”
But that’s not exactly true.
She and her husband David have a 20-acre ranch with farm animals and other pets. That, coupled with her sense of volunteerism, will be enough to keep her busy.
“I have a lot of yard work to catch up with,” she said. “David retired when he was 60 in 2008.”
The couple plans to visit her sister Nancy in Iowa and attend the state fair.
Other than that, she will be free as a bird.
An interesting career
Stafford graduated from Tarleton State University with a business degree in 1973.
Two weeks later she went to work for a prominent local attorney at the time, Joseph Chandler.
“My career began with Mr. Chandler,” she recalled. “He was a really interesting man. He would tip his hat at the ladies - everyone knew him. And his father was the first president of the Chamber of Commerce.”
Things in the office back then were strikingly different compared to today’s office setting.
“There was no coffee in the office. If you wanted a cup of coffee, you walked to the cafe. And if you wanted a drink of water, you got it from the sink,” she said.
Sadly, Mr. Chandler passed away in 1990 while Stafford still worked for him. She stayed on for the next few months to help his family settle the estate, then she went to work for Garry Lewellen, another prominent attorney in Stephenville.
Mr. Lewellen passed away in 2015 and Stafford teared up remembering their time together.
“Garry taught me that it was ok to have fun in the office,” she said. “He believed if you weren’t enjoying your work, you should do something else.”
During her time working for Lewellen, Don Davis, who was the city manager at the time, began asking Stafford if she was interested in becoming the city secretary, but she initially turned down the offer.
But Davis persisted.
“I finally talked to Garry about it and he said, ‘Cindy, you find out everything you need to know about that job and if you want it, I’m behind you.’ That shows what a great person Garry was.”
Then in February 1994, Stafford officially became Stephenville’s city secretary.
What she will miss
When Stafford was asked what she will miss most when she retires, the answer came quick and easy.
“The people,” she said.
Stafford praised her co-workers at City Hall and said she will miss seeing them every day.
But make no mistake, Stafford is looking forward to retirement.
“A friend of mine bought me a T-shirt that says, ‘I don’t want to. I don’t have to. You can’t make me. I’m retired,’” she joked before turning serious. “Leaving is bittersweet, but it’s the way things should be.”
In other words, Stafford is ready to move on to the next journey life has to offer.