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SECRETARY CELEBRATES 60 YEARS WITH SCHOOLS

When Charlotte Ash began working for the Orchard Park Union Free School District, Franklin Roosevelt was in his second term as president, and the going rate for secretaries was $8 a week.

"You did just as much then for your $8 as you do now (for a week's pay)," she said.

Mrs. Ash, 77, will celebrate her 60th year of employment with the school district Saturday. It's a milestone that leaves her fellow workers, most of whom were not born when she started working, in awe.

As the district celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, she has been part of much of its history.

Even Mrs. Ash said, "I really didn't expect to be here this long."

The former Charlotte Adams started working in the business office under the National Youth Administration when she was a freshman in high school. She was paid 25 cents an hour.

"That's how I stayed in school," she explained.

Several months after she graduated, the principal asked her if she wanted a full-time job. She started work when the district was union free and had one building on South Lincoln Avenue.

She has worked under five superintendents, seen the district become centralized in the 1940s and enrollment grow from fewer than 1,000 to 5,500 students.

"I was taught when I came to work I was a public servant," she said.

"She's one who really serves," said Superintendent Charles L. Stoddart. "She's first in line to help."

He noted that she has sewn dolls for patients at Children's Hospital and made quilts for babies with AIDS.

"She's a strong link to employees who have retired," he said, adding she sends retirees greeting cards.

Through the years she has been responsible for the district payroll and other duties. Today she keeps track of student attendance and the census.

"I didn't want to be a secretary and work with numbers. I wanted to go to Cornell and be a chemist," she said.

Mrs. Ash has seen her share of new technology, from electric typewriters to accounting machines to computers, and mastered them all.

Since 1973, she has not been absent one day, she said.

She was a charter member of the Erie County Association of Educational Office Professionals, and was named secretary of the year for the county and state.

Mrs. Ash's daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchild live in Florida. A widow, Mrs. Ash avidly follows school events, and attends school plays and concerts.

"Maybe someday I'll walk out and that will be it," she said. "At this point, it keeps me out of trouble. It keeps me active."

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