News

Marina loses its sharp Witt

After nearly 18 years at the Oak Harbor Marina, Beni Witt has become a fixture at the facility.

Witt, who will retire in a few days, began managing the moorage assignments and accounts at the marina in 1990. The duration of her public service totals more than half of the entire life of the marina.

“It’s been great,” she said of her marina years. “I’ve always said if they didn’t pay me to work here, I’d pay them to let me work here.”

Marina customers Alice and George Pell have lived aboard their boat for 16 years, seven of them in Oak Harbor. The couple was effusive in bidding Witt adieu.

“Take a warm smile, a pleasant attitude, much experience in very capable hands, then mix it gently with a generous amount of integrity — and you have Beni,” they said. “We wish you health, happiness, beautiful gardens, and fishing trips galore!”

In her almost two decades at the marina, Witt worked for all three harbormasters: Roger Leonhardi, Dave Williams and the current man at the helm, Mack Funk. Choosing a favorite is impossible, she said.

“They’re all favorites,” she quipped. “They were all good.”

Funk, who has worked with Witt for the shortest amount of time, was very complimentary of the industrious employee.

“Beni is very efficient,” Funk said. “In public service you insist upon integrity, but you can only hope for somebody who is also efficient. Beni has been great for our customers and great for me during my first year in Oak Harbor.”

Williams, who in addition to leading the marina for 15 years also served as commander of Whidbey Naval Air Station, said Witt has been the public face of the Oak Harbor Marina for 18 years, and her outgoing personality and cheerful disposition, combined with professional and courteous service, have helped foster the marina’s reputation for customer service. 

“She helped to bring about the marina’s entry into the computer age in the early ’90s, and has been the resident expert in the increasingly more complex accounting, billing and reporting systems that have come along since,” Williams said. “She has been the corporate memory spanning the tenures of three harbormasters, and it is hard for me to imagine the marina office without her.”

Professional and technological acumen aside, the former harbormaster said Witt’s success can be measured by the relationships that have accumulated over the years.

“In the end, the greatest testimonial to Beni’s qualities as a member of the marina staff and as a person is the incredible number of friends she has made, many of whom call or come to visit long after they have left boating and the local area,” Williams said. “Working with Beni for 15 years, and benefiting from her counsel, guidance and friendship, is perhaps my fondest memory of my time as harbormaster.”

Although Witt’s retirement is bittersweet, she said she has been counting the minutes until Dec. 31, eager to start logging in time on the water battling fish and otherwise taking a load off.

“I’m grinning from ear to ear,” she said.

City paychecks will no longer be waiting for the revered marina dynamo, but she will certainly continue to make the occasional appearance.

“I’ve got too many friends down there not to do that,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of nice people. There’s an awful lot of special ones out there.”

Oak Harbor Mayor Patty Cohen considers Witt one of those special people. She praised her exemplary customer service skills and personable nature.

“Beni has always been a pleasure to work with,” Cohen said. “Her commitment to customer service is unmatched. She will be missed.”

Witt started saying her goodbyes at the marina’s recent Christmas party.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Oct 29 edition online now. Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates