It still hasn’t hit Brenda Mitchell, Washington city clerk, that she has retired.
Friday, Oct. 5, marked the end of an era, as Mitchell served the city of Washington for the past 30 years and worked in city government for a total of 36 years.
In Washington, she has worked under six mayors, including Robert Dierkes, Steve Reust, Bernie Hillermann, Walt Larson, Richard “Dick” Stratman and Sandy Lucy; and 30 city councils.
“I would have never dreamed that I’d be here with the city of Washington for 30 years,” Mitchell said. “That’s for certain.”
Mitchell, who began her career as a city clerk in Licking, her hometown, didn’t even think she would continue in city government at all.
“I always said when I left the city of Licking I really didn’t want to work in governmental work anymore,” she said, adding that people never think they’ll get involved in the politics, “but you do.”
“But I’ve enjoyed it,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed working with the different mayors and the different councils. The city has been very good to me.”
Mitchell, nee Johnson, was united in marriage to Jerry Mitchell in 1968.
In 1981, Jerry Mitchell’s job as a painter in St. Louis required the family to move within commuting distance. By then, the Mitchells’ children, Brad and Joley, were in grade school.
In July 1982, Mitchell began working as the accounts payable clerk in Washington. Within several weeks, a position in human resources was open and Mitchell took over that job. She had experience in human resources through her previous job.
“City clerk in Licking meant you did everything,” Mitchell said. “It was a one-horse show,”
Mitchell was appointed deputy city clerk in 1987 and was appointed city clerk in 2001.
“There are things I’ll miss,” she said, including the people she works with, as well as “the motivation to get moving” in the morning. “I told someone I was afraid I might be a couch potato.”
Through her career, Mitchell said she’s always prided herself on being fair with people.
“I will treat you the same no matter who you are. I treat people fairly and justly and I value that,” she said. “There may be people who are better off, but there is no one better than anyone else. We are all equal. All the material things we have on this Earth are just borrowed.”
She’s also proud that in working with 30 city councils, she can’t think of a single person she didn’t get along with.
Outside of work, Mitchell is most proud of her family.
Mitchell has a long list of accomplishments spanning the past 30 years.
She received the designation of Missouri Registered City Clerk in 2003, Missouri Registered City Clerk with Continuing Classification in 2004 and with sustaining classification in 2006.
She was named employee of the year in 2005.
In 2010, she received Missouri Professional City Clerk status.
She earned a certificate of appreciation from the American Heart Association in 2010 and was presented with a leadership award through the Franklin County Area United Way in 2011.
That same year, she received the Everyday Hero award from the Missouri City Clerks and Finance Officers Association.
“I feel honored that I received the awards,” Mitchell said. “The hero award was very special.”
Mitchell served on the legislative and education committees of the Missouri City Clerks and Finance Officers Association. She was a co-chair and served as chairman of the education committee.
She also served in the budget and finance committee, scholarship committee, mentoring committee, membership committee, bylaws committee and communications committee.
Mitchell was involved in professional organizations such as the International Institute of Municipal Clerks, the Missouri City Clerks and Finance Officers Association, as well as the East Central Division and the Eastern Division of the Missouri City Clerks and Finance Officers Association.
A celebration and retirement party was held for Mitchell at the end of September.
Upon retirement, Mitchell said she’s still not sure how she’ll use her time.
After spending some time unwinding, she would like to get involved in volunteer work.
Though she said she’s never been a good traveler, she may enjoy a little travel in retirement.
Taking over Mitchell’s position is Mary Trentmann, former deputy city clerk. Mitchell said she feels confident leaving her job duties to Trentmann.
“She’ll do a fine job for the city of Washington,” Mitchell said, offering her one piece of advice.
“Don’t let your job take precedence over your family,” she said. “Remember that your family comes first.”