SIDNEY — Eileen Wiseman, of Sidney, has been the executive director of the Senior Center of Sidney and Shelby County since March 1, 2013.
Exactly six years later — to the day — the center will host an open house in her honor as she retires from working life.
The reception will be March 1, 2019, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the center, 304 S. West Ave.
Wiseman had been a member of the center since 2001 before taking the top spot. She had even had an office there from 2001 to 2008, when she was the Shelby County coordinator of the RSVP program.
When she retires, she will leave a career that included stints at RL Stephens Construction, Citizens Baughman Bank and American Greetings and buying and selling antiques with her husband at craft fairs. It was while she was working at the bank that she met James.
“I used to watch him come out of Ross Aluminum. He had a ‘58 Corvette,” Wiseman said. That was reason enough to make his acquaintance.
“We met in July, got engaged in October and married in January. Everybody said it wouldn’t last. It lasted 41 and a half years,” until James died in 2012, she said.
The couple have a son and daughter-in-law, Thomas and Lori Wiseman, and four grandchildren, Alex, Maddy, Andrew and Grace.
During Wiseman’s tenure at the Senior Center, the organization has extended its hours to be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, and 8 a.m. to noon, Saturdays. It has also extended its programming: Move & Groove, line dancing, pickle ball, Texas hold ‘em and the Senior Center Choir were added to already popular programs in the last six years.
In addition, Wiseman and her staff have been more active at getting the word out about the center and what it has to offer.
“People are getting to know us more. We’re getting more out in the community. We have very good rapport with all the other agencies,” Wiseman said.
She thinks the biggest challenge facing the center is interesting baby boomers in participating. Many Shelby Countians are surprised to learn that people need be no older than 50 to become members and take advantage of everything going on.
When asked what she’s most proud of, Wiseman remembers ways that the center has helped individual members in times of crisis.
“I’m very proud of my staff,” she said. “They helped a member get out of a very abusive relationship. (In another instance), we had a gentleman who’s father was in a rest home. The son wanted to take his father home, but could not because the powers that be said no because he lived in a trailer. I consulted with my church, St. Paul’s, and Holy Angels. They collaborated to buy ramp stuff so that guy could bring his elderly, sick father home. If (members) need help, and we can’t help them, we will get them help.”
Wiseman is quick to give a shout out to her staff: administrative assistant Darla Wilges, who will retire at the end of March; chief financial officer Pam Moorman, receptionist Elizabeth Hamm and part-time receptionist Carolyn Warner.
“I’ve been blessed working underneath Eileen,” Wilges said.
“I’ve been equally blessed,” Wiseman said. “I’ve enjoyed working with (the whole staff) all these years.” She also praises the center’s volunteers.
“They head up our different committees. Every one of them puts more than 100 percent in. They multitask. They do everything to make the Senior Center better,” she said.
One of them, volunteer cook Vicki Alexander, of Sidney, returned the praise.
“Eileen’s a super, super lady. I hate to see her go,” Alexander said. Among the volunteers are members of the center’s board of directors. They recognize the special talents Wiseman has brought to the job.
“She has her open door policy. She’s so friendly. So we’ll lose everybody’s coming in to talk. We’ll lose that,” said board President Janet Born, of Sidney.
Board member Steve Wiford, of Sidney, said Wiseman’s biggest contribution has been communication.
“She’s always on target. She’s always looked out for everybody else. She really means a lot to the center. She has a dear friend here — probably 40 or more,” he said. Perhaps that’s why Wiseman says it’s the people she will miss the most.
“It’s like a family down here, board, staff, members,” Wiseman said.
“You think she’s going to miss us. We’re going to miss her more,” Wiford said. He also praised Wiseman’s ability to manage the center’s finances.
“She’s a business lady. She not only watches the finances, she produces. She’s been involved with many different grants,” he said.
“She’s brought in sponsors for our newsletter and grants. She’s really a very intelligent woman. She has a charm over the phone. I’ve listened to her. I wish I had that ability,” Born said.
Wiseman is well known for her sense of humor and for the candy dish on her desk, which is, according to Wiford, “always full.”
As she moves into retirement, she will stop filling the candy dish and begin to fulfil her bucket list.
“I’ll take short trips, go out with my friends for lunch, sleep in,” she said. “I would like to go to (the antiques shops) in Metamora, Indiana. I would like to go back down to Nashville one more time. To the Grand Ole Opry. I love Nashville. I feel at home down there.”
And she will do things at the Senior Center as an active member. Playing billiards, however, will not be one of them.
“I wouldn’t want to show the guys up,” she said with a wide grin.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.