By Anna Fletcher
Courier-Times Staff Writer
Piedmont Community College is saying a fond farewell to a longtime staple of its community, as Administrative Assistant to the President Cindy Fox retires at the end of the month after almost 41 years.
Colleagues and friends of Fox held a celebration for her in the administrative building of PCC’s Person County campus on May 17 to show their appreciation and support as she approaches this transition in her life.
“It was a jewel to come in here every day and see her,” said Etta Jones, a former PCC administrative assistant to the vice president who retired two years ago. “Cindy just made it a bright day. She always has something to say to make me laugh. She’s been wonderful. I’m glad for her that this day has finally come.”
Four presidents later …
In 1977, when the college was called Person Technical Institute and operated under the presidency of Dr. Ed Cox, a 19-year-old Fox was hired for the Secretary to the President position, having just graduated from Hardbarger Business College in Raleigh.
“They were going to keep me for six months until Dr. Cox found someone he liked,” Fox said. “And I’ve been here ever since.”
A Person County native, Fox worked with four of PCC’s five presidents: Cox, Dr. Jim Owen, Dr. Walter Bartlett and, now, Dr. Pamela Senegal.
“It’s been amazing,” she said. “I have enjoyed all four presidents. I learned a lot from [Cox,] because I was very young and naive. But they’ve all been great. I have enjoyed my time with each one. And I hate that I’m leaving when Dr. Senegal is new – or been here just her first year – because she’s great. She’s wonderful.”
After spending most of her life at PCC, Fox is eager for the restfulness of retirement. The thing she’s looking forward to most?
“Just not having to get up to go somewhere every morning,” she said.
She’s hoping to volunteer at her church, Theresa Baptist, with a weekly program similar to Meals on Wheels, she says. [Corrected:] Her daughter and son will also keep her busy, she says, as her son and future-daughter-in-law are planning an August wedding and re-modeling their future home. Besides that and helping care for her two “grand-dogs,” though, the plan is mostly to kick back and relax.
“My husband says he’s going to leave a list, and I told him the list will be there when he gets back in the afternoon,” she said. “So we’ll see how it goes.”
‘This super employee named Cindy Fox’
Fox holds an unmatched record of service in the PCC’s history, says Owen, who worked directly with her for over two decades.
“Having served 22 of [Fox’s] 41 years as president,
I have a tremendous appreciation of the value that Cindy has been to the college,” he said. “Her thoughtful approach to even the most challenging topics is one of her most enduring attributes. Her service to the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and students – along with her deep love for the college – will be greatly missed.”
Senegal holds the same sentiment. “As Cindy leaves our institution to enjoy the fruits of her 40- plus years of labor at PCC, she leaves a legacy of service, loyalty and dedication that will serve as an example to all of us who have had the pleasure of interacting with her,” Senegal said. “We wish her every joy in retirement.”
Her support and guidance have not only applied to the college’s president, but to its Trustees.
“I was the chairman years ago and had not been on the board long at that point,” said trustees board member Larry Wilkerson. “[Fox] was just so helpful to get me to all the places I needed to be. We traveled all over…and she just made sure everything was straight. [She was] just a pleasure to work with – a very sweet lady.”
For some of the more recent trustees board members, her reputation preceded her.
“When I was appointed last year as trustee at PCC, I heard of this ‘super employee’ named Cindy Fox who had seen it all, could do it all and, well, was like ‘Ms. PCC,’” said Clarence “Zeke” Smith. “What I found out was it was all true.”