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Town Clerk Dorothy Ogar retires

Just weeks after Dorothy Ogar was honored by having the Town Clerk’s office named for her after decades of service to the Town, she has retired.

In a letter dated last Friday and sent to Supervisor Gerry Siller, Ms. Ogar said, “It is with great regret that I must inform you of my retirement  from the Office of the Town Clerk of the Town of Shelter Island, Registrar of Vital Statistics, Freedom of Information Officer and Records Access Officer, effective December 17, 2022.”

She said her retirement comes sooner than she expected but she has been struggling since her bout with COVID in July and August and “I am not improving as quickly as I would like to.”

She said she will miss serving the people of the town as she has for 61 years.

“This has been basically a lifetime career for me. As you know, I have always called Shelter Island ‘my Town and I have enjoyed the journey.”

Ms. Ogar is currently on vacation in Florida visiting her daughter, Sharon Jacobs and Ms. Jacobs family for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Ms Jacobs retired las year as Deputy Clerk after 33 years, and moved to Florida.

Amber Wilson is assuming Ms. Ogar’s duties, according to Deputy Town Clerk Linda Cass. The Town Board will appoint a Town Clerk in the interim and voters will have the last word next November, Supervisor Gerry Siller said.

“With regret, the Town Board accepts her notice of retirement,” Mr. Siller said on behalf of himself and his colleagues.  “Dorothy’s vast knowledge, unparalleled service, and total commitment to the Town of Shelter Island will be greatly missed. The Town is losing a very im-portant piece of our Town government, but the Town Board is supportive of Dorothy’s decision to spend more time with her family.

“It is quite hard to put into words just what Mrs. Ogar means to this Town. Not too many residents can remember a time when she wasn’t part of Town government,” Mr. Siller said. “Dorothy is a Shelter Island institution.  We will be forever grateful for all she and her family have done for our Island community and wish her well in the next phase of her life.”

Ms. Ogar has been Town Clerk since 1978 and served as assistant in that office, working for her mother, Helen Dickerson Smith, since 1961.

At the Oct. 22 ceremony marking the designation of the Town Clerk’s office in Ms. Ogar’s name, former councilman Peter Reich noted she has worked for 13 supervisors and been revered as the person holding the institutional memory of the town.

Councilman Jim Colligan presented the plaque to Ms. Ogar at the October event, announcing only one person would decide where the plaque would hang: “Dottie runs the place,” he said, hailing it as “a perfect day for a perfect lady.”

Other speakers that day were former supervisors Albert Kilb and Hoot Sherman, and former councilmen Ed Brown and Glenn Waddington.

All praised her professionalism in keeping the office non-political. Mr. Kilb praised her “loyalty, hard work and diligence,” and her “strong skill set, and grace and elegance.”

Mr. Sherman said he has known Ms. Ogar since they were in 1st grade together, and how as clerk, her deep institutional knowledge of the office saved Town Boards from serious mistakes, including lawsuits that Board members could have stumbled into.

She could make her points known without verbalizing them, Mr. Sherman said, remembering “that look,” which told people in no uncertain terms “to move on, go back to your desk and sit down.”

Ms. Ogar is “always cool and calm and respectful,” Mr. Waddington said. He and Mr. Brown credited her with helping them navigate the demands of the office when they assumed their Town Board seats.