Anita Abrell to Retire from City After 32+ Years

2/21/2013 6:35:00 AM   Article compliments of The Courier-Times, subscriptions available at  
'Big shoes to fill'
Anita Abrell to retire from city; public welcome at open house
Anita Abrell has been at the same city desk for more than three decades. The public is invited to wish her well at a retirement open house in the New Castle city building from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 1. Donna Cronk / C-T photo
Anita Abrell has been at the same city desk for more than three decades. The public is invited to wish her well at a retirement open house in the New Castle city building from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 1. Donna Cronk / C-T photo
"I love New Castle. I love the people. The people here are so wonderful."

Anita Abrell


Ever since New Castle Fieldhouse opened in 1959, an Abrell has sat in the same seat, two rows behind the bench. Anita Abrell, who holds the seat now, says her parents got those first season tickets and the family has kept them since. From those seats, in the largest and finest fieldhouse in the world, a lot of memorable basketball has been viewed.

An avid sports fan in general and basketball fanatic in particular, Anita's favorite teams are her New Castle Trojans and Indiana and Butler universities' ball clubs. In fact, she picked the strategic date of Friday, March 1, to retire from her 32 1/2 years working for the city of New Castle. She is calling it quits just in time to enjoy a whole month's worth of March Madness.

Anita says that is what she is looking forward to most - catching all of the ballgames at all hours of the day and night and not worrying about setting an alarm for work.

"I've set an alarm clock for 45 years," Anita says. She'll not be doing that again for a while.

A New Castle native and lifelong resident, Anita is 64 "and a half," she adds. She spent more than three decades as clerk1 in the New Castle building inspector's office and clerk/secretary of the board of zoning appeals. She is also secretary of Employees Local 1478.

Wish her well

The public is invited to an all-day open house for Anita from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, March 1, in the New Castle City Building. Refreshments will be served and organizers ask that folks stop by to wish her well and share some smiles, stories and well wishes.

New Castle Mayor Greg York says Anita knows where every file is and has more knowledge stored in her brain about the offices she works in than can be fed into the computer. "I don't know how we're going to do it without her," he says, adding that she has truly been an asset and her work appreciated.

Anita has worked for five different mayors and nine different building inspectors. Her New Castle career has been spent behind the same desk. Or, on one occasion, under it. Anita laughs as she recalls the time she was wearing new shoes that were slick on the bottom and before she knew what was happening, the shoes slipped and she landed in full splits on the floor under her desk. She called for help but could not be seen as she was so low on the floor in the mishap.

She recalls once when an unhappy client said to her "You are just a little witch." Anita said she was just doing her job at the time but the patron didn't like what she was being told over a licensing issue. The clerk turned it into something of a joke on herself. Ever since, she has collected signs that say things such as "the witch is in." She took the attitude "I'll just run with it " as something of a gag.

Anita says when she retires, it is the people she will miss. "I love New Castle. I love the people. The people here are so wonderful," she says.

Sports in her blood

The daughter of the late Homer and Frances Abrell, Anita graduated from high school in New Castle in 1966. She was also her class secretary. She had one sibling, her older brother, Larry, who passed in 2011. He spent 30 years in the military and lived in Alaska. But that didn't stop the two of them from having a standing phone visit every Sunday night when they would review the week in sports - in detail.

"My dad loved sports," she says of her childhood where her love for sports was nurtured. "We watched sports."

Her mother's precious memory was of being a student at Martinsville High School when it won the state in basketball. Her mother wanted Anita to have a memory like that and she got just that when her Trojans won the state in 2006. "That was fun. It was really fun." That victory was one of her favorite. But she also loved the 1983-84 team with Steve Alford on it and getting to see Alford play and win the national championship with Indiana University by one point on a last-second shot in 1987 in New Orleans with her mother beside her. "We had a ball," Anita remembers.

She is a huge Peyton Manning fan and even though she had to endure placement of a steel rod in her leg, Anita only says of the situation that she is glad she got it at Peyton Manning Children's Hospital. She is a Colts fan and is proud of the New Castle Little Leaguers for their bid at the Little League World Series last summer.

Busy lady

Anita plans to remain active in the city that she loves. Her memberships include the First United Methodist Church, Raintree Chapter of the American Business Women's Association and meeting with her high school classmates for lunch the third Monday of the month at Pizza King on Ind. 3. She enjoys counted-cross stitching and flower gardening,

Anita's duties will be split up and assumed by two different people. Janet Davis will take over the seat at Anita's desk. Janet says Anita has big shoes to fill. "I'm going to put her on speed dial."

Also doing some of Anita's work will be Pam Armstrong. "We're going to miss her a lot," Armstrong says. "She is a walking book of knowledge. We'll keep the phone lines hot."