The Star-News


After almost 30 years, senior center director mulls retirement

Fri, Jul 23 2010 06:34 PM Posted By: Carlos Davalos

Once more our quest for interesting people did not have to take us too far off the beaten path. We found Kathy Wigginton at a place that I visit at least weekly, the Norman Park Senior Center. But where my visits are infrequent, hers are constant.

Wigginton is the director at the center, a job she has had for many years. Her real title with the city is recreation supervisor, but, as is the case of many city departments in this age of fiscal frugality, she wears many hats. 

I think I have a leaning toward folks who have occupations that basically help other people. 

This can be regular employment or it can be of the volunteer variety. 

Kathy has been employed with the city for 27 years, all with the city of Chula Vista. She is a local, a graduate of San Diego State.

She started out initially working with children and then later dealing with seniors. She has been at her present position at the Norman Center for 10 years.

I sat with Wigginton in her office at the center the other day and we spoke of many things. You see, she is going to retire quite soon. After 27 years with the city she thought it was time to hang it up and seek other pastures. She hates to leave the locale because, after all these years, she has become quite fond of it, particularly its history. 

That particular parcel of land housing the Norman Park Center is probably the first bit of property used for public purposes in this part of the South County.

It was 1888 when the first structure was erected on the parcel. This was the two-story F Street School that had children from first grade through the eighth. It was the only site of education in Chula Vista for many years. It vied with the Sunnyside School, a much smaller structure that was built at almost the same time in Bonita.

The F Street School remained on the site until 1917. It was relocated a few blocks up the street and the parcel became the site for the classic Carnegie Library that became a learning beacon for readers in the area. It was built in 1917 and was the city's library until 1955. 

Similar library buildings dotted many cities in the country during that period and they were one of the principal sources of culture in many towns during the Depression of the '30s.

Wigginton tells me that the present building was opened in 1992. She added that it is presently the site of much senior activity with a very active senior club, periodic dances and luncheons and many classes aimed at seniors. There are also many volunteers - the numbers vary from 60 to 80 - at the center, all with a goal similar to hers - that is, to help others. 

We have been a witness to some of the luncheons that are served in a room where walls can be moved about so that hundreds of seniors can sit comfortably and enjoy a pleasant repast amid pleasant company.

While I was speaking with Kathy the subject sort of veered to baseball. She spoke of her son Ty who, at that time, was preparing for a singular appearance.

Ty, you see - a product of local schools - was preparing for a trip to Anaheim from Baltimore, his city of employ. He is a professional baseball player and was a member of the American League All-Stars. This was something Kathy told me in the way a proud mother boasts about her children, and rightfully so.

Kathy added that her entire family was going to the game. This included a few grandchildren whom she and her husband Don were going to shepherd around the city of Anaheim.

Don, by the way, is also a local product and is the transportation manager for the Sweetwater Union High School District.

The Wigginton's also have a daughter, Lindsay, who is married and lives in upper New York state. Ty Wigginton, by the way, has a home in North Carolina where he went to college. With grandchildren in two such places, New York and North Carolina, it looks like the retiring Kathy is going to have lots of places to visit. 

We wish her well.


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