Tommy Mann Jr.
The Orange Leader
A woman known for her friendly smile and passion for “beautiful things” has officially retired after more than 30 years.
Patsy Herrington, director of the historic W.H. Stark House, celebrated her retirement on Monday afternoon with a celebration of her career while surrounded by family, friends and colleagues inside the Carriage House.
“The W.H. Stark House is such a beautiful place filled with so many beautiful things,” Herrington said. “It’s been my home away from home for so long.”
Herrington began her career with the Stark Foundation in September 1980 when she was hired with the first guiding tour group and to manage the tour. She has been the direct of the W.H. Stark House since 2001.
“There were a total of 25 employees when I started with the Stark Foundation and, now it’s a gigantic family,” she continued. “The thing I’m going to miss most is the people. That’s definitely going to be the hardest part for me.”
Herrington has been an integral part of the W.H. Stark House and has helped transition the beautiful house through some very trying periods in recent years.
“Patsy’s commitment to the Stark House during and following Hurricanes Rita and Ike, her attention to detail and knowledge of care of the house and its collections brought us through very difficult times,” said Walter Riedel III, president and CEO of the Stark Foundation and Stark Cultural Venues. “I am grateful for her seeing us through the restoration and reinstallation.”
Reidel’s praise for Herrington’s hard work and dedication did not end there.
“Patsy has been an integral part and overwhelming influence toward the success of the W.H. Stark House,” he added. “I fully understand she is concerned about leaving her ‘baby’ and its future, but we promise to take care of it and, it is my hope, that we will be able to measure up to her high standards.”
Herrington created one of the most popular year events at the W.H. Stark House, the “Holiday Open House,” in 2003. The annual event brings hundreds of visitors to the home each night during the two-night event in December.
She loves so many aspects of her job and the home, but she still cannot single out any one as her favorite over the rest.
“I don’t have a preference to any one season on how we decorated the house, but I loved it all,” Herrington explained. “I loved setting the table in the dining room, but I always wondered if Mrs. Stark would think it was OK or not.”
Herrington’s retirement from her position at the W.H. Stark House is bittersweet, but she is excited about the future and being able to spend time with her husband, her family and her grandchildren which live out of state.
“I walked through the house on Friday looking at all the things that were special to me,” Herrington said. “And I got a little teary-eyed. But it’s time for someone else to come in and take charge and bring in some new ideas. I really loved being here but I’m excited about the future too.”