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Editorial: Leader leaves deep legacy of aiding seniors in community

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Bob Pitman will leave an impressive legacy when he retires at year-end as executive director of the Bartholomew County Senior Center, renamed Mill Race Center in 2011.

Pitman took the reins in 1985, as just the third executive director of an agency that was the first of its kind in 1957.

He has led and advocated for the county’s fastest-growing segment of the population. Pitman has touted older residents as dependable workers, among the best mentors and visionary leaders, and as important cogs in the community.

Pitman championed that message in 1990 when he first advocated for construction of a new senior center location. He knew that the landlocked center in the former Pump House at 148 Lindsey St. in Columbus would be insufficient for the projected booming of 50-plus and 65-plus population segments over the next 20 to 30 years.

So, he mounted a tireless campaign for a new center that took many years and even faced opposition from some seniors who preferred a different location for a new home. In the end, though, Pitman’s vision was realized with the 2011 opening of the $8 million, 24,000-square-foot Mill Race Center, at 900 Lindsey St.

Mill Race Center features a fitness center, is the site of many activities, and offers learning opportunities to keep seniors energized and thriving. The organization has 2,300 members.

During Pitman’s tenure, he also launched inter-generational programs and educational programs such as Partners in Education, working together with community organizations to provide programs aimed at senior citizens and other residents.

His expertise was tapped when he served as chairman of the Washington-based National Institute of Senior Centers a decade ago.

Mill Race Center’s succession plan calls for a team of four people will provide the leadership. The team includes Dan Mustard, full-time director of operations; Beth Parkhurst, part-time marketing coordinator; Paula Herlitz, part-time development coordinator; and Cindy Chodan, part-time program and membership coordinator.

Leadership transitions can naturally create anxiety, especially if an outgoing leader has been in place for many years. But there shouldn’t be any reason to worry in this case.

Mustard was hired in March, the others within the past few years. Pitman will work with each over the remainder of this year to make sure they know everything needed for their jobs and to keep Mill Race Center functioning for many years to come.

Pitman set a great example for others to follow.

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