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Engaging on a personal level

“Carve your name on hearts, not on tombstones.” These words of Shannon Alder came to mind as the faculty and staff of Davis & Elkins College recently gathered to recognize a retirement and celebrate a legacy of service. Our gratitude and admiration was for Robin Price who recently completed 46 years of service to the D&E community.

Robin Galford graduated from Davis & Elkins College in 1973 and immediately came to work at her alma mater. She retired 46 years later, having worked in three departments, witnessed many students, faculty, staff and trustees come and go, and touched countless lives. For the past 36 years, she served faithfully as the Executive Assistant to the President of the College, or more accurately to the six presidents of the College during this timeframe. She was the right hand to Presidents Devore, MacConkey, Mann, Smith and Mihalyo, and thankfully, was still present upon my arrival. I often joked with Robin that she had to stick around for a couple of years after my arrival to properly “break me in.” Fortunately for me, she did!

For all who know and love Robin, she is one of those rare individuals who makes every person feel valued. In my time at D&E, I have listened in amazement as Robin greeted people who either called the office or came to visit. She not only knew their names, but she engaged them on a personal level with genuineness and humility. She was always the ultimate professional, always kept confidentiality, had an innate sense of what needed the president’s attention and what she could handle to keep off my proverbial plate, and most importantly, did it all with kindness, class and grace.

In April at the Honors Convocation, it was my honor to announce the establishment of the Robin Price Award for Staff Excellence. Selected by his or her peers, this prestigious award will be presented annually to the outstanding staff member. The very first recipient, who set the bar extremely high, was an obvious choice. Her name was Robin Galford Price.

During my remarks at Robin’s retirement celebration on August 30, also attended by her husband, Mike, I said that while we all are sad to see this day of separation arrive, we were nonetheless happy for both Robin and Mike knowing that they now have the gift of time. With that gift, they can do the things that were not possible during their working years. I know that high on Robin’s “to do” list in retirement is quality time with her three children, two grandchildren and her two fur babies. Not surprisingly, Robin’s response to my remarks was a reminder that she is ready to be an enthusiastic volunteer for the place and people that she loves dearly, namely Davis & Elkins College.

This column is about the reflections along life’s journey, and particularly the special people we encounter along the way. Like so many of you connected to D&E and the town of Elkins, I am grateful for the blessed intersection of mine and Robin’s journey for a time. And, as my father reminded me often, the journey continues….

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