Renita Rash retires

West Memphis bids farewell to 41-year city employee

By John Rech news@theeveningtimes.com

The City of West Memphis recently said farewell to 41-year employee, Renita Rash. Rash retired last Friday from her post as purchasing manager. Tucked in an out of the way office at the end of the hall in the city shop building and managing city purchases not many public observers would have noticed her. But in fact her work was indispensable to the city. Outside the Utility Department, Rash processed all city purchases. “I handled everything form paper clips to fire trucks,” said Rash. In fact her first time purchasing a fire truck presented a huge challenge with the details. Getting an apples to apples bid comparisons presented a big on the job learning curve. “The hardest thing I ever did was the first time I had to spec out a fire truck,” said Rash. “I knew nothing about it. I did it as a challenge to myself.” Her career proceeded through city hall and spanned five mayoral administrations progressing through a few jobs titles along the way. “I started off on the finance department,” said Rash. “Then, I went to the building department as a secretary for permits.” Rash was the first woman certified as plumbing inspector and it took contractors a while to adjust to the idea. “I worked as a field inspector for 12 years,” said Rash. “It was wild at first. I fell down in the mud a couple of times. But, here you have a woman doing what was considered a man’s job. After a while contractors realized I was only out there trying to do the right thing.” “I started as under Joyce Ferguson, then Leo Chitman, Keith Ingram, Al Boals and now Mayor Bill Johnson,” said Rash. “Ingram, everybody worked hard under him. Bill Johnson is a really good numbers man. He absolutely knows what is going on down to the details.” During the Ingram years they started the design review commission, and the sign control ordinance,” said Rash. “That was a big thing back then. We cleaned up hundreds of signs up and down Broadway, Missouri Street and the service roads with the help of the utility company. Finally Rash ascended to purchasing under the Boals’ tenure as mayor. “I’ve had this job for 21 years.,” said Rash. She expects to be joined in retirement by her husband Electrical Superintendent Foster Rash in about a year and plans to head for trout waters. Grandchildren, reading romance and mystery, and watching her favorite game shows Jeopardy and Family Feud are among the items on her retirement to do list. Her family has been a big part of the history Missouri Street of Christ and she enjoys bible study books. Part of Rash’s duties included carrying a huge key ring and a city cell phone. While she won’t miss those a bit, she will be missing the camaraderie at work. “I enjoy my coworkers,” said Rash. “It’s going to be really hard to leave those people that I work with five days a week.” Retirement time on the White River with another set of her favorite people is part of the plans. “I enjoy trout fishing and I am looking forward to my next phase of life,” said Rash. “I want to be with my family. I really enjoy that.”

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