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Dawson retires after 25 years at St. Paul’s

Joyce Dawson will retire today after serving 25 years as parish administrator at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

During that time, she has worked alongside five full-time rectors, including current rector Jack Alvey, and four interim rectors.

“Ms. Joyce had to break in a number of rectors over the years,” said former rector the Rev. Polk Van Zandt.

Local attorney and St. Paul’s member Ralph Hobbs still remembers how Dawson answered one of the interview questions before she was first hired.

“We wanted to know if she thought she could do the job and she responded, ‘I taught myself how to drive a tractor. I can teach myself to do this job.’ The rest is history,” Hobbs said.

When Dawson began in 1992, St. Paul’s was still printing bulletins on typewriters.

Alvey said he was impressed by Dawson’s ability to keep up with changes in technology over the years.

“Ms. Joyce never wanted to stop learning,” Alvey said. “She made it her personal mission to get the bulletin right, and she wouldn’t rest until it was finished.”

Dawson oversaw a lot more than worship bulletins. In addition to managing finances, answering the phones, and working with vendors, Dawson was available to members of the parish who needed someone to lean on.

“A lot of the people come by the office for pastoral care and many of them don’t want to see me — they want Joyce,” Alvey said.

During a retirement celebration on Sunday afternoon, Dawson said to those at St. Paul’s: “I am thankful that I could be a small part of your life, but thank you for being such a big part of my life.”

During Dawson’s words, Alvey’s daughter Mary Katherine, age 4, gave Dawson a hug and said what everyone else was thinking, “We’re going to miss you Ms. Joyce.” In his Ode to Joyce, local attorney and church member, Bill Gamble said, “Now as you leave us we wish you good cheer; we forever will love you and hold you so dear.”

Dawson’s last day in the office is today. Mary Helen Smith has been hired to serve as the next parish administrator.