Local news- Press Release
☷ Bristol Tennessee - Velma Witte Bristol at Work
Bristol , state Tennessee ( By Press Release office)
The article below is one in a series called Bristol at Work that profiles employees of the City of Bristol Tennessee . Please follow us on Facebook to see other profiles in this series .
Velma Witte chuckles a little when she describes her “temporary” service as the church pianist at Highpoint Presbyterian Church , noting that she’s been “filling in” every week for more than a decade . Apparently , church leaders realized some time ago that her strong Christian faith and musical talents made her perfect for the role , and she has enjoyed it so much that she’s never thought about leaving .
“I consider myself to be a servant , ” she said . “It’s just part of who I am . ”
She serves her church community on weekends and Bristol Tennessee community members on weekdays in her role as Executive Secretary to City Manager Bill Sorah . Her full - time job at City Hall comes with dozens of responsibilities – developing agendas for City Council meetings , complying with public notification requirements , drafting proclamations , writing letters , answering calls and questions from the public , sending reminders when new members are needed for the City’s various boards and commissions , and other administrative tasks that keep the City operating smoothly . Her job , she explained , is to make the City Manager’s job easier .
A native of Bristol , Virginia , Velma grew up with her siblings by her side , playing and singing in a family quartet that often performed at homecomings and Saturday night singings throughout the southeast . After graduating from Virginia High School in 1979 , she went to work for the American Lung Association of Virginia and remained in that position for just over nine years before becoming a displaced worker . She was married by then and had a young son to care for , but still found time to work part - time – first as a bookkeeper at a local church and later as secretary in the City’s utility services division – while enrolled as a full - time student at Virginia Highlands Community College .
After about 18 months with the City , Velma transitioned into a new role as a full - time secretary for then - Deputy City Manager Bill Sorah and completed her associate’s degree in Business Administration , Through a series of changes in the City’s structure and personnel , she became secretary for the Director of Public Works for a number of years , and when Mr . Sorah’s secretary retired in 2018 , she was selected to fill the role as Executive Secretary to the City Manager .
During this time , she also returned to the classroom to complete her education , earning a bachelor’s degree in Computer & Information Sciences from ETSU in 2007 .
“It took me 16 years to get the degree , but I was also working full time and raising a son and taking care of elderly parents and in - laws , ” she said . “I still managed to graduate magna cum laude . ”
She and her husband , Gerry , have now been married 33 years . They’ve raised one son together , but Velma also considers her step - sons – Gerry’s two sons from a previous marriage – and each of their wives to be her children . That makes six in all . Of course , Velma will tell you that the only thing better than being a mother is being a grandmother , and she’s been blessed enough to earn that title five times now . Family keeps her busy , but she also enjoys cooking , photography , and traveling . She and Gerry have traveled to Mexico , seven Canadian provinces , and every state in the continental U . S . except Mississippi and Louisiana . They like camping – old - fashioned , sleeping - in - a - tent camping – and have a bucket list of travel destinations that includes the states they haven’t yet visited , plus Australia and Ireland , her ancestral homeland .
Velma knows a bit about cars , noting that her father made sure she was capable of changing the oil and replacing a flat before she left home , and has a soft spot in her heart for animals . She and Gerry shared their home with a rescue dog for more than 15 years and have even cared for a pet snake or two . Her kindness extends to humans in need , too , through her charitable work with Raceway Ministries and her enrollment in a Liberty University program that is preparing her to be a life coach . She’s always been a friend in need , but now is receiving the formal training that will make her even more effective at helping others reach their goals .
“I just enjoy helping people , ” she said . “I like the people I work with and enjoy working with the public . I can’t think of anything more rewarding than serving others . ”
A special shout out to Executive Secretary Velma Witte as we celebrate Administrative Professionals Day , a day that recognizes all those who keep our offices organized and running efficiently . Velma’s knowledge , expertise , and incredible attention to detail are tremendous assets to our City and another great example of #BristolAtWork
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