The Day’s 50-year employee earned her cake
Colleen Proctor, then 16 years old and known as Colleen Dougherty, came to The Day in 1973 as a work-study student from Waterford High School.
Today marks Proctor’s 50th work anniversary, and on Friday, we celebrated her milestone with cake, decorations and deserving praise.
“I don’t think that much of it. I really don’t,” Proctor, 66, of East Lyme said of her anniversary when we spoke earlier this week.
She said she doesn’t plan on retiring as long as her health holds up. The Day building at 47 Eugene O’Neill Drive is her “home away from home.”
The Day’s longest-serving employee, she’s a role model for versatility, having adapted to the changes in the business by learning new skills. She’s worked in the mail room, commercial print, advertising and now is in accounting. She’s had 12 managers throughout five decades and occupied 18 different work spaces.
She can’t remember calling in sick, though she does recall going into labor on the job and calmly carrying on — “The labor pains weren’t that bad,” she said — before her boss told her to go home. She was sent home another time with what turned out to be pneumonia requiring four days of hospitalization. While still a teen, she once reported to work with fresh bruises from a car crash.
She does relish her vacation time, which she spends visiting and traveling with family members.
Technically, Proctor has worked for The Day longer than 50 years, since she delivered the paper by bicycle in her Pleasure Beach neighborhood in Waterford beginning at age 13 or 14.
Her first jobs involved bundling and hand-counting and inserting advertisements into newspapers and loading them into mail sacks. She fondly remembers the group of older women she worked with and the fun they had on the job.
She worked in the commercial printing department when there were three “full-blown shifts,” and it was “crazy busy, but great.” She witnessed the purchase and eventual sale of various pieces of equipment after the paper ceased its printing operation.
“Every piece of equipment went, and all the beautiful people went with it,” she said.
Kelly Johnson, from classified advertising, said she learned from the best when Proctor trained her in the mail room when she arrived at the paper 17 years ago.
“Colleen is a very dedicated person and it shows daily,” Johnson wrote in an email. “Even after she no longer worked in the mail room, If there was a problem and we had to work late to get the papers out, she would volunteer and be right there to help us. She has become a true friend and I feel lucky to work with her.”
Carol Webster, from our Information Technology department, remembers how resourcefully Proctor handled a noise issue the first day they worked together in a fourth floor office with an air conditioner that sounded “like we were at the airport.”
“Next thing you know Colleen is standing on her desk trying to stuff paper in between the metal slats for the ceiling tiles,” Webster wrote in an email. “The next day I brought in some small felt protectors for under furniture, now when the air started she was able to use these instead of wads of paper and by the end of the week it was much quieter. She is the best co-worker anyone could ask for; she will do anything for the good of the company and to help anyone in need. I am also lucky enough to call her my friend not just my co-worker.”
Maryellen Solinsky, accounting manager, said Proctor doesn’t give herself enough credit for her hard work and knowledge of the business.
“I would be lost without her in the accounting department,” Solinsky said. “I am so honored to work with her as well as to call her my friend.”
Publisher Timothy Dwyer told Proctor at the celebration that she is “the best colleague” and a positive influence at The Day.
“You’re part of the fabric here,” Dwyer said. “You’re part of the reason it’s a great place to work.”
This is the opinion of Karen Florin. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 701-4217.