Cathy Carruthers, the Winter Harbor town manager and town clerk, has “always been very proud I was born in Maine.”
Cathy’s father, James Lilly, was stationed at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor when he met his future wife, Barbara Gerrish of Winter Harbor. They married, and later “I was born in Bangor,” Cathy said. “I grew up basically in Virginia” due to her father’s military career.
Cathy visited her grandparents in Winter Harbor every summer. When she was in second grade, her father went to South Korea, and she and her mother lived in Winter Harbor that year.
After graduating from high school in Virginia, Cathy worked 27 years for the Department of the Navy at the Washington Navy Yard. Involved in procurement and contracting, she worked as a program analyst in financial management on the Virginia class of nuclear submarines, “very interesting work,” she said. “I enjoyed that job.”
“I also did some work on the Seawolf program,” Cathy recalled.
“That experience has helped a lot with this job” as town manager, she said.
“I moved up here in 2007. Maine is where I wanted to be,” Winter Harbor the town where she wanted to live, Cathy said. She “started working part time in the town office” for Town Manager Roger Barto, who retired in 2009. Selectmen hired Cathy as town manager that October.
Besides being the town clerk, she is also the tax collector, road commissioner, registrar of voters, general administrator and motor-vehicle agent.
Cathy and Deputy Clerk Sara Liscomb work in the town office, part of the new municipal building constructed six years ago. Located at 20 School St., the building also houses the Winter Harbor Police Department and the Winter Harbor Fire Department.
“We’re a small town, but we’re very busy,” especially as summer residents return to their Grindstone Neck homes in late spring, Cathy said. Liscomb “does a great job” and “helps me out a lot. She carries a big workload.”
Besides publishing the annual Winter Harbor town report, for which the Maine Municipal Association presented her awards for best town report in 2012 and 2013, Cathy publishes the monthly Winter Harbor Times newsletter, filled with information about town activities.
Asked about challenges facing Winter Harbor, Cathy credited the selectmen for making sure that “we’re in a really good place right now.” The town had a 10.4 mill rate in fiscal year 2019 and fully funded the $1.7-million town municipal building without raising taxes.
The town is currently “gutting and refurbishing” the former Winter Harbor School gymnasium to improve its air handling and HVAC, Cathy indicated. The gym is used for children’s programs and rental activities.
Cathy lives in Winter Harbor with her father; her mother died three years ago. “I love to go down to the shore, to the Sand Cove area” and look for sea glass that she uses along with vintage jewelry to decorate frames, Cathy said. She volunteers as treasurer of the Winter Harbor Historical Society and the Winter Harbor Fire Department Association.
“Family is very important to me,” Cathy stressed. Her daughter, Barbara, and son-in-law, live out of state with their daughter, Madison, who “loves Maine. She can’t wait to come to Maine,” usually in time for the annual Winter Harbor Lobster Festival.
“Winter Harbor has always been so special to my daughter — and now my granddaughter,” Cathy said.
“Winter Harbor is a destination, not a town you just drive through,” she commented. Both great-grandfathers on her mother’s side “were lobstermen. I love the town. It’s near and dear to my heart.”