Linda Paugh started at Cortland Acres before it had formally opened at a minimum wage rate of $ 2.85 an hour. Now, after a 33-year career, Paugh is ready to enjoy more free time and visits with her family.
During her time as a Certified Nursing Assistant and in the facility's laundry, Paugh developed family-like relationships with co-workers and residents alike, plus a reputation for patience and kindness. She said from the beginning, she made sure she took time to talk - and listen - to residents.
Her last day was July 10.
Linda Paugh retired from Cortland Acres after a 33-year career, actually starting a month before the long-term care facility officially opened.
"Take your time, listen to them, have fun with them," Paugh said in the way of advice to current nursing assistants. "You can learn so many things from them. I've gotten lots of life lessons from residents. They have so many experiences."
Being a bright spot in their daily routine brought joy to both sides.
"This job is so rewarding," she said. "When you go home you know you made somebody smile, made someone feel better. It's not a glamorous job, but it's such a rewarding job."
Over the years Paugh saw Cortland Acres from the family side. Her mother spent four years as a resident.
"The day she passed, the residents on that wing just cried with me," she said. "They became just like family to you."
There were plenty of fun times, too. Paugh recalled two residents in the same room, one named Jessie, a country music fan, and one named Fannie. When Fannie wore blue jeans, Paugh would look at Jessie and tell her, "Baby's got her blue jeans on," referring to the popular country song, and Jessie would ask her to sing the song.
"I sang what I knew, but I didn't know it all," Paugh said with a smile.
Paugh will spend more time with her husband, Clarence, a retired coal miner. They have a daughter in Winchester, Virginia, and a son and daughter in Fairmont, plus grandchildren to spend time with.
"I've worked with a lot of good people here and made a lot of good friends I'll never forget," Paugh said. "The most interesting people I've met here at Cortland are the residents, though. You can learn something from every one of them."
Sometimes that literally was the case.
Miss Solena Massi, for example, was a schoolteacher for Paugh's husband and children, then a substitute teacher for her grandson before becoming a resident at Cortland.
Longtime co-workers praised Paugh's attitude and work ethic.
"She was a wonderful, wonderful CNA," Linda Fridley said. "I don't remember her ever losing her cool. She took care of people the way they should be taken care of."
Teresa Lycliter added, "She was very efficient and very caring, always willing to sit and listen to the patient. Linda is really one of a kind. She was a lot of fun to work with, too."
Paugh arrived at Cortland in April 1978 without any background as a nursing assistant, getting trained in the weeks before it opened. When Don Roy worked at Cortland, he had been on B Wing and asked where Linda Paugh was. The answer he got was, "I don't know Linda Paugh."
Roy's response was to throw up his arms and say, "What do you mean you don't know Linda Paugh - she opened this place!"
Paugh always felt at home. "We all have a calling in life. I felt like this was my calling," she said. "I just didn't realize it until I got here."
For more information about Cortland Acres, Pineview Apartments or The Pines single-family homes, visit www.cortlandacres.org or call 304-463-4181.