MIDDLEBURY — Longtime executive assistant to the first selectman, Barbara Whitaker, is stepping down after nearly 20 years at Town Hall.
Whitaker, who recently earned her MBA in project management, informed the Board of Selectmen on Monday, April 18 she had taken a human resources position with a private firm.
Whitaker’s last day at Town Hall will be May 4.
“There are lots of great memories. This was a difficult decision,” Whitaker said Wednesday, April 20. “I will miss the people of Middlebury. I’ve known these people for years and they have always been wonderful.”
Longtime Middlebury First Selectman Ed St. John said Whitaker’s announcement was “bittersweet.”
“She’s been my right arm for 19 years and it has been a great team effort,” he said. “I am going to miss her, but this is an opportunity for Barbara and you have to take advantage of opportunities.”
Whitaker and her husband, Bruce, a retired state police lieutenant, reside in Naugatuck. The couple has two children, a daughter, Justice, 24, and son, Jarrett, 21.
Whitaker worked part-time when she started in 2003, when her kids were young. Over the years, her hours continued to increase until she became full-time.
In the early years, St. John served as both first selectmen and director of public works, meaning he was not always in the first selectmen’s office, and he relied on Whitaker to keep things running.
“He would come in with his jean shorts and his hard hat after he’d be out there on the bulldozers, and I would always have everything laid out for him,” Whitaker recalled. “I was new to municipal government and it was an eye-opening experience. I have learned so much from working for Ed. He has given me the opportunity to grow.”
Whitaker went back to school in 2012 to get her associates degree and then took online courses at Post University in Waterbury, where she earned her bachelor’s degree and later her MBA. Next month, Whitaker will earn a second master’s degree in human relations.
In 2014, Whitaker said she nearly died after contracting pneumonia and spent two months in the hospital before making a full recovery.
She wasted her life at that job.