Wesner announces retirement

B y Jaime Thomas

After more than 20 years of service to the Pember Library and Museum, Executive Director Pat Wesner sent in a letter of retirement effective April 1.

She has worked at the library for about 24 years and has served as executive director since 2003. Wesner, who turned 55 on Sunday, said she had been planning for several years to retire at that age.

“I absolutely love the Pember. It’s part of my heart, but it’s what I needed to do,” she said. “I have worked long and hard on collections, collaborations and writing grants and finding support for a not-for-profit—raising millions of dollars over the years.”

In the Feb. 26 letter to Mary King, president of the board of trustees, Wesner reiterated those sentiments.

“I have enjoyed my many years of service, especially working with children young and old. While I look forward to my retirement, I will miss the amazement and excitement of folks discovering our wonderful hidden treasure,” she wrote, going on to thank King for her support since becoming a trustee last month.

“My hope is that the current board can meet the challenges ahead and have the community support this amazing institution,” Wesner said, offering her assistance during the transition.

Her resignation comes after several months of turmoil between the most recent library board and local officials following the release of State Comptroller audit report, which found several problems within the museum. Local officials and residents have since been questioning trustees’ violations of bylaws and illegitimate spending of several accounts.

Bo Young, who has been a trustee for several years and has lately been publicly defending the board and Wesner’s actions, said he was not surprised Wesner decided to resign. He maintained his recent position that she is the victim of harmful attention.

“She is one of the most capable individuals the Pember could have ever hoped to have in a crucial position, knowledgeable in every aspect of the museum (she is a trained biologist) to overall management of the Pember,” Young said in an email. “But she has been maligned and slandered, her integrity has been questioned. She can do better and no doubt will. I’m not so sure about the Pember.”

King said the board did not ask Wesner to resign; it was her own decision.

“She decided it was time,” she said. “Pat has been a wonderful asset to the Pember over the years. We were lucky to have her.”

Phyllis Cavanaugh, who has been a trustee for a number of years, also said Wesner has done a lot of good for the library.

“Patty Wesner brought talent and energy to her work at the Pember. She shared her enthusiasm and her unique knowledge about the animals in the collection with members of the local community and with people far and wide, bringing much positive attention to Granville,” she said.

“She will be sorely missed, and we wish her the best in her new endeavors.”

At this point, King said there are no immediate plans for replacing Wesner.

“We have no plans on that until we’re on our feet financially,” she said. She said the spot is a non-competitive civil service position, so it has to follow certain guidelines.

King said the Pember “will continue to be the jewel it has always been in our community.”

“We’ve got a great board now, and everyone is trying to do their best for it,” Wesner said.

Granville Mayor Brian LaRose, who has been working closely with the Pember following the audit release, said he believes everyone is moving forward positively.

“I hope she finds what she’s looking for and wish her the best in that pursuit,” he said of Wesner’s resignation.

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