The Town of Wilton celebrated outgoing Town Manager Rhonda Irish at her retirement party at the town office Wednesday, Aug. 3. Irish is retiring after 13 years in the role to start the next chapter, she said. Town employees gifted Irish a hand-made wooden rocking chair, rhododendron plant and table to enjoy while relaxing in her retirement. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

WILTON — Town employees, elected officials and community members gathered at the Wilton Town Office Wednesday, Aug. 3, to celebrate the retirement of outgoing Town Manager Rhonda Irish.

Irish, whose last day is Tuesday, Aug. 9, announced in April she would be retiring to “start the next chapter of my life.”

While excited for Irish’s change,  it was a bittersweet moment for everyone in attendance.

“I won’t ever forget any of you guys,” Irish told the room when the party first began. “This has been my favorite place in the world. You guys have been so great.”

Wilton highway department operator Corey Hutchinson fills out a card for outgoing Town Manager Rhonda Irish at a party Wednesday, Aug. 3. Hutchinson said it’s been a pleasure to work with Irish, who is retiring after 13 years as Wilton’s town manager. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

Town employees presented Irish with a wooden rocking chair built by Ken Sprague of Wilton, a rhododendron bush and table for her to enjoy at her poolside at her home in Jay.

The back of the chair was inscribed with the words “Town of Wilton Gang” surrounded by hearts.


“We’re hoping she’ll use her table, put a book on it and watch her plant grow,” Deputy Treasurer Linda Bureau said.

“It’s sad to see her go. It’ll be tough,” Bureau said. “But I’m happy for her.”

Utility Clerk Michelle Howatt teared up while explaining what Irish has meant to her over the years.

“Every day with [Irish] is fun. She’s a fabulous person, fabulous boss and amazing mentor,” Howatt said. “She was always there to listen, no matter what she was busy with.”

Ruth Cushman, who worked with Irish in Jay said she was always “so approachable, always made you feel good about yourself.”

“She’s just a wealth of knowledge,” Bureau added.


Other town employees, officials echoed those feelings.

Police Chief Heidi Wilcox, also in attendance, described Irish as a “treasure.”

“She’s just understanding,” Truck driver laborer Rod LaPlant said.

Rob Lively, former president of the Friends of Wilson Lake (FOWL), was also in attendance to show his support in the way Irish has for FOWL over the years, he said.

“[Irish] has always really understood the importance of Wilson Lake for the community,” he said. “I’m here appreciating Rhonda and all of her good work.”

Wilton Town Manager Rhonda Irish, at left greets town employees Rod LaPlant and Corey Hutchinson at a celebration of her retirement Wednesday, Aug. 2. Irish is retiring as town manager after 13 years. LaPlant said he’s appreciated working with Irish over the years because she is understanding. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal)

Irish opted to not give any remarks. Instead, she went around the room spending time with the around 30 people who attended the retirement party.

Irish will be replaced by incoming Town Manager Perry Ellsworth, who briefly attended the party and left early to give Irish her spotlight.

Irish said that it’s been “going great” training Ellsworth, who is “so experienced.”

But, she added, “it’s been hard trying to squeeze 13 years in a week of training Perry.”

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