Carla Hill announces retirement from the Batavia Park District
Aug 31, 2016 09:47AM ● Published by Neighbors Magazines
From left: Chris Winter, Carla Hill, and volunteer Georgene O’Dwyer
Forty years. Doing the same thing for 40 years may seem treacherous to some, but to Carla Hill, it’s been an honor. In November she’ll celebrate 40 years at the Batavia Park District, leaving behind a legacy and a countless list of contributions, and in January she’ll celebrate her last day at the district.
Carla began her career as a volunteer at the Batavia Depot Museum. As a young mother, she remembers watching the building move along Wilson St. to its current location. At the time she had done some volunteer work at her children’s school and for various community events, but once she heard about the Depot Museum she decided to volunteer there.
“I remember standing on Wilson St. watching the old depot being moved, not knowing that I would become part of its incredible journey,” she said.
After only a few times of volunteering, the head of the Batavia Historical Society, Dr. Lucille Gustafson, approached Carla about the need for someone to operate the museum.
“I will never forget that day,” Carla said, “I was volunteering as a docent when Dr. Gustafson walked in, flustered, and explained that the new curator they hired decided to take another position. With that she looked at me and said, ‘You’re young, how would you like a part time job?’”
Carla reluctantly agreed to take on the role, which began as simply sorting through backlogged mail, basic office work, and opening and closing the facility.
“I hadn’t even talked to my husband about it,” Carla laughed.
But as she has done so many times throughout her career, Carla jumped right in to help out. Over the years, Carla brought a tremendous amount of growth and creativity to the position, adding exhibits and witnessing the expansion of the museum campus, which included the addition of the gazebo, Coffin Bank and water tower. She also got an opportunity to experience the growth of the Riverwalk and bike trail.
“I have watched the museum become an important part of our community,” she said, “There were still train tracks next to the building when I started, and the bike trails were just being developed.”
During her tenure at the district, Carla has worked with seven directors and has seen staff come and go. In her earlier days, she worked part time in the office at the civic center on Wilson St. in addition to taking care of the museum. For nearly 11 years she held both positions and eventually became office manager when the position opened up. Not only did Carla purchase the district’s first computer but she also purchased the first software used for registration and the production of the brochure.
“I remember when I first started they wanted me to type a program for a ballet recital,” she recalls, “I had no typing experience, but I learned fast!”
Eventually there was a need for the museum position to be full time. The Gustafson Research Center was added to the building in 2000, and the executive director at the time, Ralph Voris, wanted to offer more programming and events at the museum. Carla then moved her office down to the museum and took on the full time role alongside Chris Winter who was working part time in the museum already.
“Chris and I have worked together for 30 years, and it’s going to be a hard transition for the both of us,” Carla said. “I’ve had the privilege of working with so many wonderful people and volunteers, and I have developed such incredible friendships.”
Carla plans to stay on to help with the museum expansion project but is really looking forward to having some down time.
“I’m looking forward to not setting an alarm every day,” she laughed, “I want to spend more time with my grandchildren, and maybe I’ll actually get to swim in my pool!”
Carla also plans to stay involved in the community and volunteer her time with different groups in town. Throughout the years, Carla has been involved on the MainStreet board, Batavia Access and the local clothes closet. She was named the 2005 Batavia Citizen of the Year for all her work in town.
During Carla’s last few months, she’ll be assisting in the hiring process of her replacement and looks forward to seeing the position grow and evolve with a new person at the helm.
“It only seems right that as the museum approaches its next great adventure that I step aside and let someone new take the leadership role,” she said. Carla Hill can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 630-406-5274.