By Erin Freeman | Lynnwood Times Staff
The city of Lynnwood created history on May 1 when it held its first-ever virtual retirement celebration for City Council Executive Assistant Beth Morris.
This is the first time such an event was held online in the city due to the Stay Home Stay Healthy order following the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Zoom call lasted for more than an hour with the participation of a mix of nearly 40 former and current City of Lynnwood employees who shared their appreciation and thanks for having had worked with Morris. Additionally, Morris’s friends and family attended the virtual party, which they would not have been able to do if it had been held in person.
“There are so many sad things about COVID-19 and how it’s hurting people, but there are blessings too,” said co-host of the virtual event and Councilmember Shannon Sessions. “This meeting being virtual lets you have your friends and family from other states here, and a variety of people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to be here.”
Morris’s son in law Paul Stelmachers joined the event from his home in Sherwood, Minnesota, expressing that all of the reflections shared about her character and work demeanor speak to who she is as a person.
“That’s who she is everywhere and every place,” explained Stelmachers. “There’s not a work Beth, there’s not a personal Beth…it’s just Beth.”
Former councilmember Sid Roberts thanked Morris for her genuine friendship and guidance, adding that if anybody deserved to create history for the city of Lynnwood is was her.
“This is pretty incredible. If you would’ve told me 25 years ago that we could do this I wouldn’t have believed you,” expressed Roberts. “What’s even more interesting, is that Beth was the council assistant, and yet she mentored so many people. That’s what’s fascinating to me.”
Reflecting on Morris’s 14 years as City Council’s first executive assistant, former Council President Loren Simmonds shared the beginning Morris’s journey.
“It was not a quick and easy process. When we initially put out the job description, we had 157 applicants,” explained Simmonds. “From my standpoint, one of the best decisions that I was ever a part of while I was on City Council, was hiring her.”
Lynnwood’s current City Council President Christine Frizzell discussed what it was like finding out that Morris’s time with the city was coming to an end.
“It was a sad day in February when Beth let me know that she would be retiring, and life has not been the same since,” said Frizzell. “On Monday we will start Life after Beth and that will be difficult because she has small feet, but big shoes to fill.”
Midway into the gathering, Director of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Arts Lynn Sordel recognized Morris for serving on Lynnwood’s Parks and Recreation Foundation Board, honoring her three years of service with a lifetime membership to the Recreation Center.
“You were a wonderful addition and you did some amazing work helping us achieve our goals,” said Sordel. “I have here a lifetime pass for you to the rec center and I will find a way to get it to you. You are always welcome in any of our facilities and any of our parks and anything we do… we would welcome you with open arms.”
At the end of the call, Morris expressed how special being the recipient of Lynnwood’s first virtual party made her feel and how grateful she was for everyone’s support and wishes for the next chapter of her life.
“This is the first virtual employee retirement party for the city of Lynnwood and that’s pretty special,” stated Morris. “To say that you all made me feel loved, valued, and appreciated is an understatement. This has almost been like a sugar high that will surely crash down. To all of you that have made my retirement celebration special, thank you so much for the beautiful memories.”