Wanda Fullmore swam through a sea of love last night during a packed to the rafters retirement party at Monona Terrace.
The long-time Madison mayor (technically, "mayoral office clerk") stepped down after better than three decades in office. Over that time she played along with the ruse that five other people were serving as mayor.
But everybody knew where the power really was. Mayors came and went (and sometimes went and came back), but for the latter part of the 20th century and the start of the new millennium, Wanda Fullmore was the voice of city hall.
Every day, Wanda greeted each person who entered the mayor's office and handled most calls. She assisted citizens who weren't sure which city agency they needed to contact, she calmed irate callers upset about their tax bills or snow plowing or whatever, and she was the councilor-in-chief when city employees or others stopped by just to chat or lay out a problem for a sympathetic ear.
I don't know. There may be someone out there who does not like Wanda Fullmore. But if there is, I don't want to know them.
I joked that to replace her, the city will need to create a very expensive 311 system. But that wasn't entirely a joke. The city really will need to invest soon in the non-emergency one call for service system that so many other communities already have.
But last night wasn't for serious policy discussions -- it was a time for serious and not so serious reminiscences, and for expressions of gratitude to a woman who for so long was a fine public servant and a great friend to citizens, her colleagues, and the mayors she graciously allowed to spend some time with her in her office.
Happy new life, Wanda.