When the Garrison Institute staff gathered at Dolly’s Restaurant on a warm Thursday afternoon, the feeling in the air was a mix of celebration and sadness. After fifteen years of dedication, Linda Downey, our events manager, was retiring. We came together to honor her work ethic, her commitment, and most of all, her faithful, generous, and beautiful presence in our lives.
Linda Downey has been part of the Garrison Institute since it was founded in 2003. She started at the Institute working with our caterer, Fresh Company, and within a few years moved upstairs to a Garrison Institute office as our events manager.
Linda’s steadfastness, grace, and meticulous attention to detail helped the Institute thrive in the years following its inception, and she was the embodiment of the values of hospitality and universal welcome that informs the Institute.
Linda’s presence at the Garrison Institute will be dearly missed. In her final speech to those present, she spoke about the cycles of life that everyone at the Institute had experienced together. Many of us have been at the Institute through major life changes, both joyful and sorrowful. She reminded us that we have lived life fully while working at the Garrison Institute and have supported each other through camaraderie and genuine friendship through events like graduations, marriages, and births, as well as experiences like divorces and death. Everything, Linda reminded us, comes in its time. Her retirement was just another time that had now come to pass.
Marc Weiss, our executive director, praised Linda’s dedication and likened her to a beacon of light at the Institute, a guide and a teacher for all. There is nothing, he said, quite like understanding that you are leaving behind a legacy of good work and good intent. He said he would always be reminded of Linda whenever he heard a famous quote by Rabbi Tarpon–“The day is short, the work is great…It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but you are not free to desist from it either.”
Everyone at the Garrison Institute wishes Linda well as she starts the next exciting chapter of her life.