Wilton assistant town clerk says goodbye after 19 years

Assistant Town Clerk Kathy Cooper retired on Sept. 25, 2020. A familiar face at town hall, Cooper served the town for 19 years.

Assistant Town Clerk Kathy Cooper retired on Sept. 25, 2020. A familiar face at town hall, Cooper served the town for 19 years.

Contributed photo / Wilton Town Clerk

WILTON — She came in during a national tragedy and is leaving during a national health crisis.

After 19 years on the job, Assistant Town Clerk Kathy Cooper has put down her pens and notary seal and has retired. Her last day of work was Sept. 25.

“This town is wonderful, I’m going to miss it,” she said.

Cooper was known for her cheery disposition and patience with the public who would stop in needing help recording documents, requesting licenses, or searching for information.

“Kathy has been a great asset to my office and the town of Wilton, she will be missed,” said Town Clerk Lori Kaback.

But after 19 years, Cooper said it’s time to move on and spend more time with her family in Stamford and her grandchildren who call her “Gigi.”

Cooper started her job in the Wilton Town Clerk’s office on Sept. 17, 2001, just six days following the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now she’s leaving in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I started at a weird time and I’m leaving at a weird time,” she said.

Before her career as assistant town clerk, Cooper worked 11 years as a paralegal for a Ridgefield law firm. “I know what it’s like to be on the other side of legal documents,” she said.

During her time in Wilton, Cooper worked under two town clerks, Kaback, and before her, Bettye Ragognetti, who retired in 2014.

“Kathy helped me very much when I first came here and has always been a great team player and worker,” Kaback said.

Working in the town clerk’s office has been no easy task at times. The office is the “bookkeeper of the flame” for the town, requiring attentive care maintaining a vault of the town’s history — land records, birth, marriage and death certificates, maps and surveys, as well as voting and election records and historical documents.

Election years can be especially hectic for the town clerk’s office. But this year has been off-the-charts busy for Cooper and her coworkers who are handling the distribution and collection of absentee ballots for the upcoming election.

Because “no-excuse” absentee ballot voting is permitted due to COVID-19, most voters in Wilton opted to vote by absentee ballot in the presidential preference primary in August. The town clerk’s office has been hunkering down to meet an even bigger demand for absentee ballots for the November election.

“It’s been crazy time here. A lot more work than would be expected,” Cooper said.

Reflecting on her time in the job, Cooper said she is going to miss the Wilton community and her coworkers as well.

“I get very emotional. There are these pods around everyone in the office, so it’s hard to go around and hug everybody,” she said, referring to safety protections and social distancing measures inside town hall. “I’m looking forward to the day when people can get together again.”