38-year adventure draws to a close

Published 2:14 pm Friday, January 14, 2011

When the horses round the bend at the 65th Block House Steeplechase Races Mitzi Lindsey expects to feel somewhat out of place.

For the first time in 38 years, shell watch from a front row box as a spectator instead of being the woman running things behind the scenes.

Miriam Mitzi Lindsey began working for the Tryon Riding & Hunt Club (TR&HC) in 1972, when the office was located in Oak Hall Hotel. When she retires in 2011 from the job that has been her lifelong adventure, it will the be end of an era for TR&HC.

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TR&HC president Chuck Lingerfelt said he has considered it a pleasure to work with Mitzi for the last seven years.

We feel a deep appreciation and affection for Mitzi that is difficult to put into words. She has been an unwavering constant with TR&HC, always being there for the club, Lingerfelt said. She has been the spirit and embodiment of the TR&HC for 38 years.

How many people do you know who can say theyve held the same job for 38 years? In this age of mobility and increasingly high-tech demands, it is quite an accomplishment. When you factor in 17 different presidents and an ever-changing board of directors, with as many different personalities, it is an even more amazing feat.

Lindsey became involved with horses when she was under the care of her older sister, who would set her on one of the horses at Chagrin Valley Hunt Club in Ohio to keep her quietly out of the way. She has loved horses ever since.

From riding lessons at camp to riding at boarding school in Massachusetts to helping with the horses at her fathers camp, Lindsey was around horses during most of her youth. &bsp;

Then during her spring vacation in 1961, she discovered Tryon.

The leaves were out and everything was in bloom; it was absolutely gorgeous. I thought Id gone to heaven, Lindsey said. &bsp;

Back in Kirtland, Ohio, she began to scrutinize the classified ads in her parents copy of the Tryon Daily Bulletin, where she found a whole new life: a job in Tryon teaching riding lessons and taking care of stables. She made the move to Tryon in November 1961 and never looked back.

She bought her first horse when she moved, getting a two-for-one deal: the horse was pregnant when she bought her. Lindsey belonged to Skyuka Saddle Club, where she would ride her horse in barrel races and pole bending. In the years that followed, she married and had two children, David and Laura. &bsp;

It took several years to find the position with TR&HC, or for it to find her. Although she was working for Howard Greene, owner of G&K Furniture in Columbus, it was her experience as secretary for the Skyuka Saddle Club that brought her to the attention of TR&HC. Approached several times to become secretary, she always gave the same answer: Wait until my kids are in school.

Arthur Farwell and Dr. Jack Bradshaw came to her again in 1972, and the timing was finally right.

It started out as a part-time position, but the job has changed a great deal over the years. After five or six years, it grew to full-time responsibility and eventually, in 1995, required an assistant. In 2003, Laura Lindsey Weicker joined her mother at TR&HC as assistant director. In 2007, Lindsey and Weicker changed positions, with Weicker becoming the executive director. &bsp;

The work was always exciting for Lindsey.

I loved my job. Other people just hate going to work. Not me. Every day was different, she said. &bsp;

TR&HC volunteer, Betsy Miner, has worked with Lindsey for many years and has a great deal of respect for her.

She was born for this job. She goes with the flow, and that flow affected a lot of people in the surrounding communities, Miner said.

Miner gives Mitzi tremendous credit for facilitating that flow and for fostering the sense of family throughout the community, noting that sometimes thats not easy with all the characters involved!

Lingerfelt said its impossible to know the real number of hours Lindsey spent in dedication to the local horse community.

Its impossible to tell all of the ways Mitzi has positively affected this areas horse business and civic communities, he said. I have no idea how many hours she has spent volunteering for FENCE, Green Creek Hounds, Polk County Jaycees, Thermal Belt Rotary, chamber of&bsp; ommerce and countless other organizations in the past. &bsp;

Mitzi still plans to be around and to help out as needed.

Mom has taught me so much, Weicker said. Even though Ive been with TR&HC for almost 10 years, I feel Ill never know all that she knows about running the events and the office. Its nice to know that shes just a phone call away when I need her.