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Longtime Deerfield clerk to retire

RECORDER/PAUL FRANZ
Deerfield Town Clerk Mary Stokarski is retiring after 17 years on the job.

RECORDER/PAUL FRANZ Deerfield Town Clerk Mary Stokarski is retiring after 17 years on the job.

SOUTH DEERFIELD — For 17 years, Mary Stokarski has become a familiar and beloved face in the Deerfield Town Hall.

In the center office at 8 Conway St., residents have come to rely on the longtime town clerk, treasurer and tax collector for information on their community and taxes. Outside, she has become a fixture of the community, getting to know neighbors and families, catching up with them at breakfast and seeing them at dinner at Wolfie’s Restaurant.

On Dec. 20, the South Deerfield native will retire from the job she has loved. In her place will be Barbara Hancock, who has served as assistant treasurer and collector since 2010.

“Mary is very kind and caring to the residents. I think people have come to depend on her,” said Patricia Kroll, administrative assistant for the town. “She went above and beyond. I’m not sure if other towns get that personalized experience. I think it’ll take a while for people to stop requesting her. She’ll be missed.”

Leaving her job where every day she could interact with the townspeople is the hardest part for Stokarski.

“It’s why I hate to leave it. I love the people. They’ve been so good to me,” Stokarski said. “Deerfield is very special to me.”

It is that public service that has become important in Stokarski’s life.

For 26 years, Stokarski volunteered as an EMT, where she met her husband, the former South Deerfield Fire Chief Stanley Stokarski.

From 1974 to 1979, she was elected town clerk. Later, she worked in the private sector for United Engineers and Lunt Silversmiths. In 2001, she returned to her old town clerk job, which had become an appointed position combined with the treasurer and collector job.

“I like public service more,” Stokarski said. “Most of it is because of the people. And I have a wonderful staff.”

Stokarski has served for the Hampshire Health Insurance Trust, the Franklin Regional Retirement Board, and the South Deerfield Women’s Club. Since 1976, she has also been a certified Justice of the Peace.

Stokarski’s favorite part of the clerk’s job came during the election season, where she’d lead the election workers at the polls and help count the votes.

The tax collector job was the most trying, but Stokarski always tried to work with residents to make payment plans to help keep them above water.

“There’s been real hard times. I don’t want anyone to lose their homes,” Stokarski said.

One of the qualities that has set Stokarski apart is her kindness, many of her town hall coworkers said.

“I’ll be sad to see her go,” said Highway Director Shawn Patterson. “She’s been very kind to me since I got here.”

“She’s a very warm, kind and caring person,” said Kroll. “It carried down to her children and grandchildren, who are also kind and caring.”

“It’s been great working for Mary,” Hancock said.

The town clerk position is part of a recent changing of the guard in South Deerfield as many long time public servants have retired and been replaced by new faces. Recently, Patterson became the new highway director. John Paciorek Jr. returned to his home town to serve as police chief after Michael Wozniakewicz retired. The town is also in the process of finding a permanent town administrator after Bernard Kubiak retired this summer after eight years.

“There’s been a lot of changes in town, but it can bring a fresh look on things,” Stokarski said. “People can bring different outlooks.”

The transition from Stokarski to Hancock will be seamless, Stokarski predicted.

“(Hancock) pays very close attention to the citizens of Deerfield. She has the right personality for the job,” Stokarski said.

Hancock first started in 2008 as a part-time assistant for the town accountant. She also served as the municipal secretary for Whately for five years until getting the full-time assistant treasurer position in Deerfield.

When she leaves her job, Stokarski plans to spend more time with her husband and celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in June by cruising through the Panama Canal.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.

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