Louise Lester has worked for the Town of Raymond since 1989. First as a secretary taking minutes for the selectmen, then she was the deputy clerk for five years and then the town clerk since 2001. When she retires on June 27, 18 years of experience goes with her, but her legacy will last and her philosophy of customer service will continue to be a standard that the town hall strives for.
“If they have a problem we try to solve it for them. We don’t let people leave without an answer or help for their problems,” Lester said.
Lester has lived in Raymond since she was five. When she was 21 she married and built her own horse barn and still boards 11 horses. Her two children have moved back to Raymond.
Lester said that she couldn’t live without horses, but she won’t miss getting up at 6 a.m. to do chores before heading to the office.
As far as changes Lester sees in the future, she said the most important thing is “trying to maintain the small town atmosphere.” The volume of work she has has changed over her years with the town. In 1950, the population of Raymond was 750. Today it’s between 4,300 and 5,000. In the summer the population swells to 12,000, she estimated.
Her job has been keeping records whether vitals, taxes or assessing, she preserves the historical paperwork in the building that used to be a school in 1908. She also looks up information for residents. With her staff she handles motor vehicle registrations, inland fisheries fishing licenses, elections twice a year, liquor licenses, Notary work and produces two publications per year (the Town Report and the Warrant for the town meeting).
Elections are her favorite part of the job. “I love the democratic process,” Lester said. “I’d hate to see small town democracy go away.”
Her retirement will be spent volunteering with “anybody who needs help from the library to Tassel Top,” she said. “I’m sure I’ll find things to do. I don’t stay still.” She knits in the winter and donates booties for babies at Maine Medical Center and shawls for the elderly community.
“I just did a job, did it willingly and did it to the best of my ability. You have to like your work and you have to like people.”