Tears filled Marilyn Henry’s eyes for a moment Wednesday as she paused for a moment, contemplating what she would miss most as she retires after several decades of serving the local public.
“I will miss the people I worked with. In lots of ways, I watched people grow up. They came here at 21, got married, had babies … The staff and I have been through a lot together,” the Bolivar woman said.
As chief executive officer of Personal and Family Counseling Services of Tuscarawas Valley, Henry oversaw 62 employees, each working on the many programs PFCS offers to the community. That includes mental health and substance abuse counseling, early childhood mental health programs, halfway house, a domestic violence shelter and working with the elderly.
In 2011, the agency served 3,264 citizens of Tuscarawas and Carroll counties.
Before coming to PFCS, the 59-year-old worked with the elderly and disabled at Akron General. She resumed a similar role as a caseworker for two years at the agency before assuming her position as CEO, which she held for 22 岁.
While she has witnessed heartbreak, she has also enjoyed her job, especially working with the older population.
“I loved doing what we call assessment of the elderly, where they’ve been, where they are today. Older adults have some amazing stories. They don’t often think about the strengths that got them to where they are today.”
Her passion for social work and working with the elderly stemmed from her child
hood in Akron. Growing up the only child of a single mother, Henry spent much of her formative time with her maternal grandparents. Her grandmother taught her to cook and garden, and her grandfather would bring her to his work.
“I was his little sidekick,” she smiled.
Her mother was also a strong woman who taught Henry that she could accomplish anything if she worked hard and was willing to move outside of her comfort zone. It was that advice, and the prompting of her mentor, Eve Brown, that led Henry to apply for the position as CEO.
“I thought, ‘Hey, I can do as good a job as they did,’ ” she recalled. “I certainly had a lot to learn.”
Soon she went from working with clients to calling up U.S. senators and congressmen, local business owners, and meeting with other agencies’ directors. Throughout her tenure, Henry has fought to maintain funding to retain and add programs she felt were needed.
“You need to be a tremendous advocate,” she said. “One trait people often called me was ‘tenacious.’ I kept at it and kept at it and never gave up.”
Henry also succeeded in the eyes of her board.
“She is a person I would just trust implicitly with anything, because you can sense she cares about all those that surround her … That’s ultimately why she has that respect,” said Phil Bond, a long-time board member.
Bill Harding, who will serve as interim director for PFCS, admires her as well. “She’s probably one of the most professional and ethical people I’ve met in health care,” said the retired president and chief executive officer for Union Hospital.
Henry’s husband, Thomas, knows how hard his wife has worked. “She is an amazing woman,” he said. “I’m really proud of her.”
The couple plans to travel more often and are taking a cruise in September. While she may teach a little on the side or help with some agencies, Henry is looking forward to retirement. She said she wants to cook more, spend more time in her garden and read more on her Kindle Fire.
Smiling, she said, “I’m going to get my life back, do the things I used to do that I didn’t have time to do.”