BAR HARBOR — Pat Gray said serving as a town election warden is a bit like being an event planner.
“There’s a lot of work for elections behind the scene,” she said. “I always said putting on an election is like a big party; you want people to show up.”
Gray will retire on May 11 after 19 years as Bar Harbor’s town clerk.
“One of the things that a town clerk does is set the tone for the interaction [between] the public and the town,” Town Council Vice Chair Gary Friedmann said. “Pat has established a professional but warm and welcoming presence and interaction with the public.”
The clerk is in charge of compiling rosters, agendas and minutes for the Town Council and other committees and task forces. Gray also had a hand in creating the first town website and automating payroll and other processes. She was honored with the Clerk of the Year award from the Maine Town and City Clerks’ Association in 2017.
Gray grew up in New York and went to school in Massachusetts, but she vacationed in Bar Harbor with her family. She told the Islander on Friday that she fell in love with the town.
“I spent all of my summers in Maine,” she said. “My family has property that goes back to 1790.”
After graduating from high school, Gray moved to Bar Harbor and attended Husson University in Bangor.
“As a child, I remember, that I couldn’t wait to move here,” Gray said. “There’s no other place that you have the ocean, the mountains, natural resources and beauty you have on the island.”
Her first job, she said, was working for Fred C. Lynam in the current Bar Harbor Savings and Loan building. Later, she worked as the terminal manager at the now-abandoned ferry terminal.
She said the community has changed a lot during her lifetime.
“In the late ‘80s, there was a big boom of properties being bought up,” she said. “The shoe stores went away, the clothing stores went away. The seasonal business and real estate market changed.”
Another big change was the presence and subsequent absence of the Bluenose and The Cat ferries. Gray said the ferry was a spectacle for citizens and a catalyst for the business environment in Bar Harbor.
“I remember the very first [ferry],” she said. “That was a big doing that brought in tourist dollars, and more motels built up around the ferry terminal.”
“I remember riding up Paradise Hill and watching the original Bluenose come in,” she said.
Gray said she looks forward to volunteering and spending more time enjoying the scenery of the island.
“Retirement doesn’t mean a death sentence,” she laughed. “There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer and be active and alive; I think I have a lot of value to offer someone.”
Sharon Linscott, the current deputy clerk, will begin work as town clerk on May 14.