Comings, goings in a community's life

What do a shipyard president, a town clerk and the director of a special school have in common? Last week three people holding those diverse positions began transitions, one to a new challenge and two into retirement. But each in their own way had an impact on our community and countless lives.

General Dynamics announced that Electric Boat President John P. Casey will be leaving that position to become vice president for the corporation's Marine Systems group, which includes surface ship construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine and NASSCO on San Diego Bay as well as EB's submarine manufacturing operations.

It ends a long career for Mr. Casey at the Boat, where he began in 1979 and rose to the position of the shipyard's president in 2003. During his time at the helm EB trimmed the per ship cost of manufacturing Virginia-class attack submarines and earned a reputation for delivering their incredible ships on time. That effort made it possible for the Pentagon to endorse and Congress to approve upping construction to two submarines a year.

Mr. Casey also played a pivotal role in convincing the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission in 2005 to reverse the Pentagon's plans to close the Naval Submarine Base in Groton. The EB president pointed to the close relationship between the base and his shipyard that helped in the efficient development, testing and maintenance of submarines.

Ask him about this record of success and Mr. Casey will invariably point to the talented men and women who work for him. At the shipyard he worked well with union leaders and executives alike. His ability to recall names and details about the people who work at the Boat is legendary.

The good news is that in his new position he will continue to have a role in EB's success.

Clerk

At some point, in every town, life leads to and through the town clerks office - birth certificates, marriage licenses, passports, genealogy searches - and for 45 years in East Lyme that usually meant encountering Town Clerk Esther Williams. Her mom was the clerk before her.

Thursday was Ms. William's last day. She is retired. It is hard, say the locals, to imagine Town Hall without her.

Ms. Williams knows the town, its people, its idiosyncrasies and stories better than most, in fact perhaps better than any. She had a reputation for making all welcome, excusing none from being recipients of her good-natured barbs, and running an efficient office.

Her life is another that has touched so many others.

Country School

When he became executive director of the Waterford Country School in 1981, Dave Moorehead faced a big challenge. The school, which opened in the Quaker Hill section of the town in 1929, was in poor shape structurally and struggling financially. During his long service the school has undergone extensive renovations, expanded its mission and shored up its finances.

Mr. Moorehead confirmed last week he is retiring in August from the job he grew to love and couldn't leave.

Waterford Country School has an atypical mission, offering residential programs and foster care for at-risk children while working with their families.

Under Mr. Moorehead's direction the school's programs have steadily transformed to meet changing needs. Counseling for young victims of abuse, emergency short-term placements and special education services are now part of the mission. So while Mr. Moorehead has not changed jobs, his job kept changing.

"Under his leadership, the superb staff has turned around the lives of literally thousands of kids,'' noted Dr. Raymond B. Johnson, a member of the board of directors that oversees the operation of the nonprofit agency.

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We wish Mr. Moorehead and Ms. Williams good fortune in well deserved retirement and Mr. Casey success in his new role.

Just another week, but one that perhaps more poignantly than most reminded us our community is the sum of the people who live and work here, each contributing to its story in their own special ways.

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