Vagabond finds her niche at Parks & Rec desk

Owning a mind that always needs to be engaged and learning, Beth Ewing was never afraid to bounce from school to school or job to job to keep things interesting.

But her peripatetic, inquisitive nature apparently found what it was looking for 13-plus years ago. That’s when she became a Parks Recreation clerk for the city of Albany, beginning her longest stint for any one employer.

Ewing, 62, was born and raised in Albany, graduating from Albany Union High School in 1969. She enrolled at Oregon State University but quickly grew restless.

“I didn’t like taking classes that I was told I had to take that didn’t interest me,” Ewing said, and she eventually left OSU, trying higher education again at both Linn-Benton and a community college in Wyoming, where she lived with her first husband, who was in the Air Force.

Shortly thereafter, she was full swing moving through what she describes as “a huge variety of jobs.”

“I’d get bored,” said Ewing, whose long resume includes a brief stint, 37 years ago, in sales at the Democrat-Herald, and a half-dozen years in food service for the Corvallis School District. “Plus I was the only support of my family for a while. I was always looking to move up. If somebody offered me a better job, I took it.”

As it turned out, that last better job involves handling the vast array of people who come into City Hall, given her proximity near the entrances on the first floor.

“We have homeless people come in, people with other issues,” said Ewing, who calls her work fun “for the most part.”

“I do purchase orders; I sign people up for classes; you just have to learn to deal with everybody,” she said. “I give wonderful directions to people who need them; I just help them out.”

Ewing staffs the Parks Rec desk with Linda Booth, her co-worker for nine years.

“I’m still learning,” Booth joked, and Ewing said that’s probably because she’s the one who trained Booth; training, Ewing said, is not her strong suit.

“Fair to middlin’,” is how she describes her ability in that area. “I’ve got a lot of information in my brain and it’s hard to get it out. I learn by memorizing everything, and I know others don’t do that.”

“She’s too hard on herself,” Booth said. “She always goes beyond the scope. She loves to learn.

“It’s the perfect balance,” Booth added. “We laugh every day, at ourselves, at each other.”

Away from work, Ewing loves plants and gardening, and of course gaining knowledge in general.

She has a husband, Ray, who’s retired from Willamette Industries, and three daughters: Katie Walter, 42; Leslie Wells, 40; and Amber Borland, 32.

“All the things I did in the past prepared me for what I do here,” Ewing said. “I learned how to multitask.”

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