The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 21, 2013

City, Sutphin say emotional, humorous farewell

BECKLEY — After more than 24 years of dedicated service as recorder-treasurer, Gary Sutphin was given a warm farewell from the City of Beckley at his retirement party Tuesday evening.

Although Sutphin didn’t want a “roast,” Mayor Emmett Pugh couldn’t let him leave without a bit of fun.

“We all know Gary likes scotch, but we didn’t really have enough money for a good bottle,” Pugh said as he pulled out a bottle of Richard’s Wild Irish Rose.

“Make sure you chill this extra good before you drink it,” Pugh added to the delight of the crowd.

“We also know that Gary likes a good cigar,” Pugh said as he pulled out a Dutch Masters Corona Grape cigar, which he said he purchased on Ebay.

As recorder-treasurer, Sutphin was issued a city car, which Pugh said had acquired a “peculiar odor” over the years from the cigar smoking.

Pugh joked that his last order of business for Sutphin was an emergency purchase order for a box full of Febreze.

He said that if Byrd White, Sutphin’s replacement, ever needs advice, just stand outside Council Chambers and wait for the car to drive by that has smoke rolling out the windows.

With all jokes aside, Pugh said Sutphin’s leaving is very bittersweet for him.

“One of our senior leaders in Beckley is leaving us. Gary’s been with us for over 24 years. We’re sad he’s leaving, but happy he’s doing what he planned to do for several years.

“Gary has been a tremendous asset to our city. He’s been our rock and there is a lot to be said for that stability. He has given us tremendous financial stability.”

Pugh presented Sutphin with a plaque on behalf of the city for his hard work and dedication.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Chief of Staff Charlie Lorensen then took the stage.

He noted that he has known Sutphin for over a dozen years and he said his level of intelligence and drive won’t be replaced.

Lorensen presented Sutphin with the Govenor’s Distinguished Mountaineer Award and thanked him for his service to the city.

Sutphin then addressed the room full of family, friends, co-workers and city officials.

He said when he was trying to decide what he was going to say, he was going to say something individually to each of the departments, but then he said it became repetitive.

“What I have to say is the same for all of you. When I leave, the work will go on. I’ve had several people ask me, ‘What are you going to miss?’ Without hesitation, it’s you all.”

Sutphin said he has tried to go through life with as many positive relationships as possible — “You can never have too many friends.”

“I just want to say I appreciate your support and all you’ve done. Most of you didn’t know me when I started back in ‘89, but now tonight, I’ve got a room full of friends.”

Unable to attend tonight, he said, were his two grandchildren, Jackson and Addison, both of whom he is looking forward to spending more time with since he has retired.

“Thank you to my City Hall family. I can’t think of a time in the last 24 years that I didn’t mind getting of out bed. You’re great people and great co-workers. We had a lot of fun, but we got a lot of work done. Thanks for everything.”

He also thanked Mayor Pugh, for whom he said he has the utmost respect.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done for me, my family and the citizens of Beckley,” Sutphin said to Pugh.

He said he’s not going anywhere — he’ll still be living in Beckley.

“And if you see the car with smoke coming out, just wave. That’s me.”

With the end of his speech, came a standing ovation and a room full of smiles.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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