Mansfield’s Town Clerk Helen Christian announced this year that she is retiring. Amid the news, she said says she looks back fondly at her time in Mansfield, and wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“It’s been a privilege to serve as the town clerk in Mansfield,” she said. “I love the job, I’ve lived here for 40 years, [my family’s] roots are here and I plan to stay here for the rest of my life.
Christian has been at her position for over 14 years, but that was never a part of her plan.
Christian started as an office clerk in the Mansfield Town Hall to help pay for her sons’ college tuition. She said that at the time of her first son’s birth, she wanted to focus on raising a family, and raised three sons before starting years later in Mansfield as a clerk.
“I started as a part-time clerk because my oldest son was going to college,” she said. “I needed to get a job, and I found my niche and fell in love with the job.”
Christian worked as a part-time clerk under then town clerk Judy Scott. She then worked as assistant town clerk and caught the attention of those around her. Christian said that before Scott had said something to her about her potential as a town clerk, she had not even thought about it.
“[Scott] said to me ‘you would really make a good town clerk,’” Christian said. “’You love the job and you handle yourself well.’”
Christian interviewed with the then new town manager John D'Agostino (who has since moved to work Abington). She said, though the interview obviously went well, it was not the most relaxing time in her life.
“Believe me I was a nervous wreck,” she said. “It’s a big, big responsibility.”
Christian said there is so much work involved in her position that it really takes a passion to do well, but it can be extremely rewarding.
“It’s not just a nine to five job,” she said. “I hope the next person comes in and feels as passionate about it as I do.”
Christian said that sometimes, a nine to five attitude just won’t cut it, and that going above and beyond is just essential to feel like a good person. She told the story of a young couple from Mansfield who wanted to get married before the groom, who was in the Army, was stationed to Iraq.
Christian said the fiancée came into her office crying because in Massachusetts there is a three-day waiting period for a marriage license, and the groom was due to ship out before then.
“Just because the work doesn’t belong to you doesn’t matter,” she said.
Christian realized that the waiting period was not a national stipulation and called some acquaintances in the Rhode Island statehouse to get the license paperwork done in time.
Christian said that, while she started as a clerk in Mansfield to help fund her sons’ college tuition, it became much more to her than just a paycheck.
“It engulfs you,” she said. “It’s not all about the money, it was never all about the money I just loved the job. You’ll probably say well that’s pretty corny, but I do, I really love the job.”
Christian said that she will soon be a proud grandmother for the first time. She said that now that she has the time, she wants to get some things done she has not as of yet been able to do.
“I’m going into full retirement,” she said. “Of course my husband’s not too thrilled about that, but that’s the way it goes. I love to garden, I’d love to get back to that. In high school was always an artist and when the kids came I sort of gave it up. I’d love to travel. I’ll probably be taking care of my grandson for two days a week; who knows, there’s a whole new horizon out there, you never know what’s going to happen.”