Senior center director resigns

Oak Harbor Senior Center Director Bridget DeMuth surprised city officials this week by resigning after running the center for over 16 years.

City Administrator Thom Myers said DeMuth will be “sorely missed,” but the center will keep running as usual. He added that Howard Thomas, retired Navy public affairs officer and chairman of the senior center advisory board, will likely be appointed as interim director.

DeMuth said leaving the job has been something she’s been thinking about doing for awhile in order to pursue other interests, but it wasn’t an easy decision.

“If people would just quit crying when I tell them I’m leaving,” she said, “I would quit crying as well.”

DeMuth said her goal was to get the adult daycare relocated and running smoothly. Now that it’s been accomplished, she said she’s going to take some time off to do some writing and “to be a grandmother.”

“It’s been a good 16 and a half years,” she said. “I love these folks and the staff.”

Myers said city officials are sad to lose a person with so much experience and dedication. He said both he and Mayor Patty Cohen asked DeMuth to reconsider.

Councilman Eric Gerber, a member of the senior center advisory board, echoed Myers. “It’s very unfortunate for our community to lose such a highly respected individual,” he said.

Gerber encourages all senior citizen to contact elected officials and advisory board members to help shape the future of the senior center administration. “I will be watching closely and helping in any way possible to ensure the current senior programs stay intact,” he said.

According to Myers, the city will “go through a full-board search” to find a replacement for DeMuth.

The senior center is funded by one-third city money, one-third county funds and one-third from community donations and fund-raising. “The community has always been very generous,” DeMuth said.

Yet Myers said the idea of turning the senior center into a non-profit organization, instead of a city department, is an idea that’s been kicked around for awhile as a way to cut city spending at a time of budget woes. He admits the idea will likely pop up back in the future.

“It’s an issue that will be looked at,” he said.

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