UPPER DUBLIN — In all likelihood, there is no park, open space, recreational program or community event in Upper Dublin that has not been touched by Susan Lohoefer over the last 42 years.
But after 30-plus years with the township Department of Parks & Recreation, followed by more than 10 with the school district, the go-to woman for township and school district officials is retiring.
District Superintendent Steven Yanni, in an email, thanked “Sue for her years of dedication to the Upper Dublin School District,” and “wished her well in retirement.”
Explaining why the time was right, Lohoefer said, “A former co-worker once told me I would know it was time to retire when after just thinking about it turned into feeling it in my heart.” That feeling came in 2009, when she retired from the township to embark on “a new career with an exciting, community services-related opportunity to work with the school district,” and again following a milestone birthday and her father’s passing last summer, she said.
A near lifelong township resident and Upper Dublin High School graduate, Lohoefer began her career with Parks & Recreation in 1978 and was promoted to director in 1980. She oversaw open space preservation and planning; parks development, maintenance and capital improvements; recreation programming and special events; and community engagement, while maintaining a regional and statewide presence.
She also raised funds for events such as the UD Twining Valley Golf Classic and obtained grants for the parks, facility construction and rehabilitation, comprehensive open space plans and community development programs and projects.
Terming Lohoefer’s service to the township and school district as “absolutely stellar,” Township Manager Paul Leonard said she was the “absolute lead person on many events and projects,” which she completed with “high standards.”
She is “famously organized,” with “binders that document every detail,” Leonard said. “She can run an event for two to 1,500 and everything comes off properly; she’s remarkable.
“Her impact on the community can’t be overstated.”
Referring to that eye for detail, Leonard noted, “She had no problem telling people at every level — these are my plans, details and expect you to follow them. I would volunteer for the Twining Valley Golf Classic and would get memos telling me exactly what color shirt and shorts to wear and time to be there, and I’m her boss!”
“Sue works in Upper Dublin and then volunteers in Upper Dublin. With her you never know where the job ends and volunteerism begins, she just did it all,” said Bob Danaher, a longtime community volunteer. “We did every community day together, every Monte Carlo night; she was instrumental in getting grant money and supporting every athletic complex built in Upper Dublin in the last 30 years — CHAC, Field of Dreams — Sue saved that project.”
In 2009, Lohoefer began her “encore career” as facility & community affairs manager for the school district, establishing procedures and managing local and regional community use of high school spaces such as the Performing Arts Center, Forum, Athletic Complex and Natatorium, Cardinal Stadium, districtwide fields and buildings.
The new high school provided an opportunity to expand community outreach, “and no one knew, understood and appreciated Upper Dublin the way Sue Lohoefer did,” said Dr. Michael Pladus, UD superintendent when Lohoefer was hired. “We felt she was the perfect person and she was.
“In my 10 years in Upper Dublin I met so many wonderful people, and Sue Lohoefer is among the very finest,” he said. “You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who did not hold her in the highest regard personally and professionally.”
In addition to serving as a liaison between the district and township, Lohoefer fostered relationships with numerous school, township and outside groups, worked with administrators and police on school-wide safety issues, supervised use of the natatorium and worked on committees for numerous events.
During her career, Lohoefer also worked as a recreation planning consultant, served as events coordinator for the Greenfield Youth Film Festival and as an adjunct professor, intern supervisor and guest lecturer for the Fox School of Business.
Reflecting on Lohoefer’s “involvement with all the special events that occur in Upper Dublin,” school board member and past President Art Levinowitz said, “She was the go-to person. Whenever there was an event to plan,” such as UD medals and community day, “we needed her to coordinate and bring it to fruition.”
“We knew all the scheduling would be accomplished perfectly. She is Upper Dublin — she will be greatly missed.”
With her June 30 retirement looming, Lohoefer said she will miss co-workers and the “excitement and build-up to all the different activities.”
The best part of the job “is the satisfaction of a job well-done, that people appreciated what was done, we met our objectives,” she said. “When I drive past Mondauk Common and Spark and see how they are used, the programs brought to the PAC, and people feel they were well-built and well-maintained and handled well as the users, it makes me feel good.
“When I came on board, Mondauk Common was a half-mile walking track; we were able to complete it to an exact mile — people appreciated that.”
She is “most proud” of relationships she made with co-workers and others to “get the work done,” Lohoefer said. “I felt we developed mutual respect.”
Future plans include more activities with her husband, two married daughters, 1-year-old grandson and elderly mother, catching up with friends and other family members.
“My mom is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, known or heard about,” said Rebecca Lohoefer-Mahon, communications coordinator for the township. “When she puts her mind to something, she sees it through and passed that on to me and my sister, Julia.
“She has left her mark in Upper Dublin. I want to live up to everything she did; she is remarkable in so many ways.”
“I’ve accepted invitations to continue as a volunteer with two UDHS alumni award committees and will continue other volunteer work at our church,” Lohoefer said.
She’ll also be passing on some of those “binders,” and keep a “watchful eye” on changes in the township and school district, she said.
And while looking forward to being in the audience rather than on planning committees, Lohoefer said, “We’ll see what the future brings.”