Despite spending much of her career working behind the scenes, there is no doubt that Linda Boucher has served as a critical cog as finance manager for Lake Dillon Fire.
Boucher, who is retiring on March 31, after 26 years with the department, leaves a legacy as a number-cruncher with a sunny and gracious personality.
“This was the best job ever,” she said last week, a box of plaques taken from the walls of her office sitting next to her at her desk. “It’s just been a great job and great people and a good atmosphere to work in and feel like you’re doing something for the community. It’s very bittersweet.” (story continues below)
As Boucher – pronounced “boo-SHAY” – plans to enjoy retirement with her husband of 40 years, Tim, she reflected that she will miss the day-to-day toils of what was kind of an accidental career.
Lured into becoming a volunteer firefighter with the former Dillon Fire Department by her husband, whose best friend was then-Chief Tony Cimino, she gravitated toward the medical side of the business and ultimately gained her emergency medical technician certification and volunteered for the Summit County Ambulance for 10 years.
When the job as office manager opened in 1994 at Lake Dillon Fire – a department with only seven paid employees at the time – she applied, despite having limited bookkeeping experience, and has been there ever since.
For a woman with a degree in secondary education and a background in the hospitality industry, somehow, it worked.
“None of my life made sense. It just happened. I never had a plan,” Boucher said with a chuckle.
Steady, reliable and conscientious, she learned on the job to manage what has grown into an $8 million budget, and it’s telling that outside auditors consistently have given Boucher’s work glowing praise during annual financial reviews.
“She’s been an exceptional employee,” said Lake Dillon Fire Chief Dave Parmley, who himself is planning to retire this summer. “Her contributions, level of trust, dedication to our mission of service and the kind of work ethic exhibited each and every day has been outstanding.”
Boucher, who grew up in Michigan and retains her Midwest sensibilities, said the biggest landmarks in her career – and the biggest increases in her workload – have been the consolidations that have seen five departments merge into the single entity Lake Dillon Fire, which now has 57 career employees.
But her indelible memories are of her early days with the department and the friends she has retained ever since.
“We made a lot of long-lasting friendships from those volunteer days, when the fire department was your social life,” she said. “We’d go to a call and end up back at somebody’s house and have a barbecue.”
Boucher, 66, and her husband plan to sightsee more in their recreational vehicle, her preferred means of travel.
“It’s your own bed, your own pillow. You don’t have to pack and unpack. You cook your own meals. It is very homey. We have everything,” she said.
Favorite journeys have included Alaska and Canada – they particularly enjoy seeing wildlife – but she said they have no intention of moving away from the community they call home.
“I could work here for years and be perfectly happy,” said the perpetually positive Boucher. “There’s just a few things we need to do before we get too old to do them – places to go, things to see.”