ROCKPORT — Linda Greenlaw will be missed over at the town offices on Main Street — and remembered fondly for years of service to residents, easy camaraderie with co-workers and a job well done.

Greenlaw retired at the end of the workday on Jan. 5 after more than two decades as Rockport Town Clerk — while simultaneously juggling the intricacies of a handful of other duties, including registrar of voters, deputy treasurer and tax collector.

Her 24.5 years as clerk, plus about 22 months as deputy clerk, adds up to just shy of 26.5 years on the town payroll, helping residents and fellow workers deal with Rockport town meetings, warrants, elections, births, deaths and taxes. That is second in years in the post only to her predecessor, Brenda Richardson, who logged 30 years before pretty much tapping and grooming Greenlaw to succeed her after luring her from her 7-year stint as town office coordinator in Thomaston.

It is the icing on the cake that says it all at the Opera House retirement party for retiring town clerk Linda Greenlaw. Photo by Jack M. Foley

“Thank you for a job very well done,” Richardson told Greenlaw from the podium on Sunday, Jan. 8 as she addressed a large crowd of family, co-workers, former co-workers and other well-wishers gathered at the Rockport Opera House for her successor’s town-hosted retirement party. The festivities were replete with music, food, refreshments and a host of speakers who offered up laurels and laughter in the majestic old hall.

At one point, as Greenlaw stood chatting with friends, a uniformed Rockport police officer waded purposely through the throng, tightly clutching a bundle and when she found herself face to face with Greenlaw proffered a beautiful bouquet of multi-colored flowers. And so, the retired town clerk, born and raised in Rockport, and Officer Celjeta Bixhaku, a 2015 immigrant from Albania, embraced in a big warm hug.

It was that kind of a thank-you party.

“Linda is an institution in the Rockport town office and in our town,” Town Manager Jon Duke said as he helped with final preparations for the gathering. “She set the bar for all of us far beyond her service to the town. Her presence will be sorely missed,” said the man she had once sworn in as a member of the Select Board.

“She is just well loved, she is easy to work with,” said Greenlaw relative Pauline Long, 91.

“She is an exceptional lady,” said Diane Miller, who, with Long, sat at a reserved-for-family table with another relative, Greenlaw’s aunt Nettie Salo, 96.

Former Rockport Town Clerk Brenda Richardson was on hand to thank the woman she brought to the town office more than 26 years ago. Photo by Jack M. Foley

“Brenda (Richardson) chose wisely,” said Rockport Select Board Vice Chair, Mark Kelley, also retired former Chief of Police who once bailed Greenlaw out of a dicey situation involving a mob of students.

“She did a great job and you have to love your job to do that,” Select Board member Jim Annis said.

State Representative Vicki Doudera called Greenlaw a dedicated public servant. “It has been a pleasure working with Linda,” she said.

For her part, Greenlaw seemed to be everywhere at once, shaking hands, hugging and smiling a lot. “I am just excited and so happy to see everybody here,” she said.

Those words seem to sum up the way Greenlaw approached her job every day. “I think in this job you either love the job or you don’t and I truly loved what I have done — and it’s my hometown and that makes it even better,” said the wife, mother, grandmother and antique postcard collector.

Linda Greenlaw speaks to a well wisher while holding flowers given her by Police Officer Celjeta Bixhaku Photo by Jack M. Foley

The job, she said, provided her with a lot of variety and kept her busy. “I love helping the residents of Rockport and the nonresidents who come here, I just enjoy it,” said Greenlaw. She plans to spend more time with family, do some home renovations and also continue with the Legacy Rockport group and her pet project at the town cemetery — making sure Rockport soon has a columbarium for the storage of cremation ashes. She won’t need that herself, she quipped — she has a plot.

The daughter of a Rockport-born homemaker, Mary, and town constable father, Cecil Dennison, who hailed from South Thomaston and also served as volunteer fire chief, Greenlaw was one of four kids. She was graduated from Rockport High School before it was called Camden Hills Regional High School — in a year she prefers not to mention. Her dad passed away at the age of 50, from a massive heart attack, she said.

Asked what she did after high school; “I got married,” she said. That would be to Walter Greenlaw from up around the Washington/Lincolnville area. They have a daughter and a granddaughter.

Of the things Greenlaw will remember about her years with the town, will be mostly the people she worked with and helped, she said. “I have worked with some really fantastic employees and fellow workers, so we have formed some great friendships. There is a group of us that used to work here and left or others that retired, six or seven of us, we get together and talk about old times.”

And there are some times to talk about — some great and some cringe-worthy. Like the time some years ago when President Barack Obama ran for the first time; a mob of students invaded the town office, all first-time voters insistently pushy and eager to be involved in the election and getting out of hand.

“They came in to register to vote and had nothing to prove they lived here. They were giving me a really difficult time — they had a camera in my face.  And low and behold who do you think walked through the door? Our Police Chief, Mark Kelley. And you heard him say, ‘Lady, you need to leave now.’ He walked through the door at exactly the proper moment, it was amazing,” Greenlaw recalled.

It was all you can eat at the Jan. 8 retirement festivities at Rockport Opera House. Photo by Jack M. Foley

And highlights? She has a few. Two big ones, in fact. They were the two times when town managers resigned or retired and she became acting town manager for a few special months.

“I was able to accomplish a lot of tasks, with a lot of help, that made me really feel like I helped the community,” she said. They included renewing the town library’s lease and putting in new sidewalks and gardens.

Highlights also include 125th Anniversary celebrations, in 2016 for the town and the following year for the opera house, she said. Among her fond memories are dinners on the bridge, parades, the fireman’s ball, third graders’ plays, supper at the Masons and dances at the Opera House.

And one thing that had nothing at all to do with her job and everything to do with her family and her hometown — she and her brother have an on-going friendly competition collecting antique Rockport postcards.

She recalled going on an eBay auction one time and bidding on a particularly collectable trio of such postcards and noticed soon that someone, somewhere, was bidding against her. In the end, Greenlaw persevered against the unknown rival and won the bidding. Sometime later she found out she had been bidding against her brother.

So, with retirement comes a rest for Greenlaw, along with genuine feelings of gratitude to a lot of people or, as she put it: “I would thank my family, my coworkers, the committees, everyone; thanks for their patience and everything they’ve done to help me on this journey.”

Linda Greenlaw and family members enjoy her retirement party. Photo by Jack M. Foley