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Muriel Harms Retires at Age 91

January 22, 2019

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ­– Friends, colleagues, and family members of Middlebury College’s oldest employee treated Muriel Harms to a farewell breakfast on January 17 as the 91-year-old prepares to step down from her part-time post as a security monitor at the Middlebury College Museum of Art.

Two Burlington-area television stations covered the retirement breakfast for the popular employee who is well known on campus for her friendly disposition and her homemade chocolate chip cookies. President Laurie L. Patton attended the event along with faculty members and administrators, numerous Public Safety officers and dispatchers, most of the museum staff, and other admirers.

Muriel Harms, second from left, is joined by her former coworker Wayne Darling, Public Safety Director Lisa Burchard, and Middlebury President Laurie Patton at a breakfast celebrating her retirement. At age 91, Harms is Middlebury's oldest employee.

    Lisa Burchard, the director of Public Safety and associate dean of the College, spoke on Muriel’s behalf and presented her with a certificate of appreciation and gifts. Wayne Darling, the former manager of the security monitors, now retired, shared some of his favorite memories of Muriel, which generally involved her knitting, her baking, or her kindness toward others.

    The grandmother of 12 and great-grandmother of seven started her “second career” at Middlebury answering phones in the Public Safety Office. Later, when the museum moved into the Mahaney Arts Center, she became a security monitor and an aficionado of the artwork there.

    “I have always loved art and anything having to do with artists,” she explained. “I enjoy speaking with everyone who comes into the museum. It’s fun to learn about the exhibitions at the same time that I am helping someone else.”

    Harms started working at the College in 1978 while still enjoying a successful career in nursing. Originally from Hudson, N.Y., she trained as an RN at Hudson City Hospital (now Columbia Memorial) and became an operating room nurse.

    In the 1960s she moved with her late husband, Charles Harms, to Pulp Mill Bridge Road in Weybridge where they raised three sons and two daughters. Muriel worked in the offices of local physicians while, at the same time, tending to her family and helping out at the College.

    “Muriel was a pleasure to work with all of those years and she was always willing to help others,” Darling said. “She never complained about her work or about anything.”

    Later at the buffet breakfast, when someone remarked that they would miss Muriel’s cookies on Friday, the nonagenarian said, “Don’t fret. I’ll keep coming up to the office with my cookies!”

    By Robert Keren; Photo by Todd Balfour