Nancy Bozzato, in her office at Pelham Town Hall. MARC MACDONALD

Outpouring of praise greets news of Pelham Town Clerk’s retirement

“Even through a pandemic, I just think it’s important to keep a positive attitude.”

So says Nancy Bozzato, one of Pelham’s longest serving public employees, who retires at the end of May after an 11-year run as Town Clerk.

A Pelham civil servant since 1999, and with more than 40 years of municipal service under her belt, Bozzato was lauded by her colleagues and local politicians for her skill, knowledge, and work ethic as news spread last week of her intention to step down.

Born and raised in Fonthill, she got her first taste of municipal government as an E.L. Crossley student back in the 1970s, when an academic work placement with the Region became available. She impressed her bosses such that they offered her a full-time job in the Land Division Committee office, the current-day equivalent to Pelham’s Committee of Adjustment.

Bozzato worked at the Region until starting her family in 1985, and took a sabbatical to raise her daughters. While on leave from the Region, she worked for the City of Welland and did some freelance work.

“At the time, the Land Division Committee function was being downloaded to all of the local municipalities, and the Pelham mayor at the time, Ralph Beamer, contacted me to ask if I would be interested in a partnership with Pelham, West Lincoln, and Wainfleet to administer the Committee of Adjustment functions for all three. So that was the capacity in which I returned to Pelham,” said Bozzato.

The new technologies of the past decade did not fluster Bozzato. During her tenure, digital reports and agendas became the norm, and council meetings were live-streamed on YouTube for the public.

For Bozzato, the education process never stopped. She acquired numerous diplomas and certifications as part of her municipal journey, and became proficient in general administration and parliamentary procedure. Five years ago she even became qualified as a marriage officiant, and in the interim has performed dozens of Town Hall wedding ceremonies.

Mayor Marvin Junkin was effusive in his praise of Bozzato. “For the past decade, Nancy has been the familiar face of Pelham Town Hall, assisting residents through the myriad rules and regulations. It is always sad to see such a well-respected staffer walk through the doors for the final time, but it’s nice to know that the Town’s loss will be her grandkids’ gain.”

Pelham’s Communications and Public Relations Specialist, Marc MacDonald, made reference to an ongoing joke he and Bozzato shared.

“I was constantly knocking on her door [during non-COVID times] and prefacing nearly every conversation with, ‘Nancy, just a quick question.’ As someone with limited municipal knowledge prior to my employment with Pelham, I have been beyond fortunate to have her close by. I never stumped Nancy with my quick questions, since she literally had all the answers. She will have to go completely off the grid if she wants to avoid my continued pestering.”

MacDonald went so far as to honour Bozzato as the “single most influential person in my career thus far,” and wished her and her family “every ounce of happiness and joy to be squeezed out in her upcoming retirement.”

Regional Councillor Diana Huson, a relative political neophyte, said that her opportunities to interact with Bozzato were limited to municipal election time, and in presenting reports to Council.

“Elections can be stressful, heated, and at times bizarre, not just for candidates, but for staff who have to manage them,” said Huson. “In my conversations with Nancy which revolved around elections, my impression of her was that she’s a complete professional in her field, who sincerely cares about people, and takes great pride in her work. I think Pelham has been very lucky to have her.”

Deputy Clerk Holly Willford, who worked alongside Bozzato for the past three years, said that, “Nancy’s integrity, passion, competence, and kindness have been inspirational. She has left an incredible legacy, and will be greatly missed by all the Town staff.”

Retirement means more time with family and friends, and hobbies. Bozzato’s daughters are now adults with their own families. One is an elementary school teacher in Peel Region, the other a nurse practitioner in Hamilton.

“My husband, Brian, and I have always had a plan for moving forward with the next stage of our lives, and now’s the perfect time for me to retire,” said Bozzato. “Brian and I like to play music together. He’s a great musician. We used to do a lot of coffeehouse performances…it was a lot of fun. So I’m looking forward to having more time for that. And I enjoy cooking…and I’m looking forward to reading books with chapters instead of subsections.”

As to advice for her successor, Bozzato thought it important to, “remember that for the people you’re helping through the roadmap of municipal work, this is something that’s entirely new to them. So just explain everything, and help them navigate the government process to understand how it actually works. For me, that’s been a very fulfilling part of the job.”

Editor’s note: In the Feb. 17, 2021 print edition of this story, comments made by Communications and Public Relations Specialist Marc MacDonald were inadvertently attributed to Pelham CAO David Cribbs. The Voice regrets the error.

 

RELATED: More reaction to Bozzato’s departure

 

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