Hundreds show up to wish senior center program director a happy retirement

Hundreds of local senior citizens gathered at the Milford Senior Center to say good-bye to program director Mary Steinmetz upon her retirement after almost 21 years at the center.

There were songs like They’ll be Some Changes Made, performed by the center’s group The Note-Ables, and Thanks for the Memory by the center’s choral group, and a group sing-along to Ain’t She Sweet?

Add to that fond farewell wishes from the people who have worked with her many years, and local officials and center members who came to know her.

“Nobody in Milford could feel more love than me,” Steinmetz said.

Steinmetz had a big job at the center: She was in charge of the many volunteers, and it was her job to arrange classes and programs, which grew over the years to include a myriad of offerings, from computer classes to Zumba to foreign language instruction.

Speakers at her retirement part at the center on Friday described her as patient, caring, calm, and always impeccably dressed.

“She always greeted you with a smile,” said Eva Joseph, who added that the program director’s replacement will have some big — and stylish — shoes to fill.

Mary Jo Lachanze said Steinmetz knew the members at the Senior Center well, and shared many of their laughs and tears over the years.

Rose Goldstein had this to say: “When we walk in, she’s there, beautifully coiffed and impeccably dressed.”

Sometimes there would be complaints, Goldstein said, going on about how she might approach Steinmetz and rant about a class being suddenly canceled, for example.

And Steinmetz, “calm, cool and collected, looks into your eyes, truly understanding the problem, and sometimes then looks at the board and points to the schedule, which clearly says, ‘class is canceled.’”

Eleanore Turkington, a former newspaper reporter who now writes the center’s newsletter, said Steinmetz was the reason she agreed to take the job a number of years ago. Steinmetz showed signs of being an amazing leader and boss, and that sold Turkington on the post.

“She’s patient, very intelligent, and compassionate,” Turkington said.

City officials were in attendance for the sendoff, including Mayor Ben Blake and state Sen. Gayle Slossberg.

Many wished Steinmetz and her husband, Dennis, much adventure in their retirement.

Amanda Berry, who formerly worked at the YMCA, has taken over the program director job, and is training now to learn the responsibilities.