Vina town clerk wraps 32-year career
Sue Raper is embracing retirement after 32 years on the job as Vina town clerk.
“It’s where God placed me,” she explained, “and it turned out I enjoyed it. I just loved the people and my job.”
Raper started the town clerk job Dec. 4, 1990, following Ellie Garrison’s stint of around a year as temporary town clerk. Raper’s last day was Aug. 31 of this year.
Although she’s enjoyed her work, she said she’s ready for a change and happy to have more time for hobbies, traveling, friends and family. With rest and relaxation on her agenda, she has plenty of interests to keep her busy.
“I love baking, sewing and camping,” explained Raper. “If it’s got sugar in it, I like to make it, and among the traveling I want to do, I hope to be able to go back to Alaska someday.” Among the sewing projects she has planned is to make a T-shirt quilt.
“I have had the privilege of working with Sue for the past 31 years, and it has been great,” said Mayor Michael Moomaw, praising Raper’s immense value to the town. “She’s a very hard-working and sacrificial person, and she loves Vina and the people in it.”
Moomaw said Raper has often gone above and beyond, coming in early or working late to help with grants, help people with their solid waste bills and assist them in getting help with community action and “whatever she could do to think of ways to make City Hall and the community a better place.”
Raper said interacting with people in the community was her favorite part of the job, as well as interactions with other town clerks. “You make a lot of long-lasting friends,” she added.
Her family includes husband Gary Raper, now retired from Tiffin Motorhomes, following earlier jobs as production manager and foreman at Sunshine Homes. Their daughter, Denieta Cantrell, lives in Vina, where she’s on the Vina Town Council and chairs the Vina Water and Gas Board. Their son, Dwayne Raper, moved to California and is a salesperson for recreational vehicles. Grandchildren include Erica Childers of Russellville and Hailey Cantrell of Vina.
During four years of her tenure for the town, Raper also stayed busy running her own business, Sue’s Country Store. She has also worked at a sewing factory, a food mart and odd jobs. When her children were young, she stayed home with them.
The new town clerk is longtime Vina resident Lisa Mason. “She’s going to be a great clerk,” said Raper. “Lisa’s from the area, and she loves the people and loves the town.”
Raper has helped Mason adjust to the new role.
“Sue has been a great teacher during this transition period,” explained Mason. “She has so much knowledge and experience in every area of municipal business, and I’m blessed to have had her train me before retiring.”
Mason said she’s been inspired by Raper’s example.
“Sue never meets a stranger, and she knows everybody,” Mason said. “I can never replace her, but I hope to pick up where she left off and continue to be an asset to the Town of Vina. I look forward to continuing to be a part of working to help our community grow and thrive.”
Moomaw said while most cities have three or more people working in the office, managing the water and gas department, the fire department and the rest of the town, “Sue has done all of this and more.”
“The hardest job she has had is keeping me straight, and I am going to miss her,” added Moomaw, “though I’m excited about her new journey, as she now has time to do all the things she wants to do.”