Dawn Nodarse has been the face of City Hall since 2008 when she began serving as Rye’s City Clerk.
By Robin Jovanovich
Dawn Nodarse has been the face of City Hall since 2008 when she began serving as Rye’s City Clerk. She has fielded every request imaginable from residents, taken the minutes at City Council meetings, married couples, and set a professional but ever-helpful tone in the Clerk’s Office. A valued City employee since July 7, 1997, when she went to work in the Legal Department for Richard Gardella, Nodarse retired last week for good reason.
A funny thing happened soon after she became a grandmother nine months ago: she wanted to spend more time with her grandson Benjamin. And once he and her daughter Kate and son-in-law Tom moved into her two-family house in Harrison and her grandson started reaching for her to hold him in the morning, Nodarse knew she wanted to do more babysitting.
Her younger daughter Sarah and her boyfriend also moved in recently, so she’ll have lots of family time, and she’s excited at the prospect.
“Having a grandchild is pure joy. Having everyone at home is wonderful,” she said. “I also wanted to have more time to read — for pleasure — and to spend with my sister who is retired. And I want to do more volunteer work. I feel blessed and want to show my appreciation by giving back.”
Nodarse, who grew up in Rye, earned a degree in the History of Early Childhood Education from Mercy College. She started off as a nursery school teacher at Methodist Church in Rye. She then worked for local law firms.
When her husband became disabled, she became the primary wage earner. “My husband died when he was 50 and City Hall became my refuge,” she said. “I bonded with Susie Morison, my predecessor, who lost her husband over the same four-month period.”
She said she leaves with good memories of working closely with Frank Culross, the City Manager who hired her, Corporation Counsel Kevin Plunkett and his successor Kristen Wilson, and so many others on the City staff. She still keeps in touch with Alice Conrad, who served as City Clerk before Morison.
On Memorial Day, Nodarse stood on the sidewalk on Purchase Street and watched the Parade. “I knew so many people. If I hadn’t worked in Rye, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet many of them. I also wouldn’t have had the opportunity to see how people are elected and gain an understanding of how government works.” She added, “Every so often I even had a former student who came in for a marriage license.”
While Nodarse isn’t entirely sure she’ll never go back to work — “I have longevity on both sides of my family” — but she knew that now was the time to help out her kids. “My daughter Sarah snuck into my last City Council meeting, and I will remember that too.”