'City of Bellaire!' Nobody Says It Better: Thank You, Tillie
A chipper “City of Bellaire!” (said with a little happy twist at the end) fills the air and rings through the cavernous halls of the front entrance of 7008 S. Rice Boulevard.
If you’ve visited or called the Bellaire offices during the last 21 years, you’ve been lucky enough to interact with smiling and pearl-wearing City of Bellaire receptionist, Tillie Wiedemann. Tillie has probably chimed the phrase “City of Bellaire!” over a million times since 1997 when Bellaire was lucky enough to have her become part of the 77401 staff.
Tillie has loved her job as receptionist and has been proud to help represent the city. She thinks it’s funny how many people are so surprised and happy to get a real person on the phone when they call and often think she’s a recording. Tillie is a big believer in returning calls as people don’t seem to return them as much anymore, she says. She believes it lets people know you care.
In addition to her official City of Bellaire responsibilities of distributing the city's mail, staffing the main switchboard, greeting customers and handling customer service, Tillie has also excelled at encouraging and inspiring Bellaire residents and coworkers.
An anonymous source said something Tillie often did (that she thought no one knew about) was to give people that may have wandered into City Hall money (several dollars at a time) so that they could get back home. She is always the person everyone can go to for candy. She keeps a cookie tin in her desk filled with little candy bars and chocolate kisses.
Coworkers and residents’ faces lit up when asked to share some words to describe Tillie. She knows everyone and everything, can solve any problem, kind-heartedly and efficiently helps, is extremely nice and helpful, “best girl ever” with the sweetest personality, always happy and helpful, are some of the phrases used to describe her. “When we first moved to Bellaire Tillie helped me and that small-town feeling is what made us fall in love with our community….” And “My parents haven’t lived in Bellaire for 20 years but Tillie still asks about them whenever I see her…” and so forth.
Tillie loves to wear pearls, which is perfectly appropriate to represent the many pearls of wisdom she has to share with others.
When Tillie was a teenager, someone gave her great advice that she’s used for life: “It’s much better to have a smile than a frown.” Thankfully Tillie took that advice and everyone at Bellaire has been enlightened by it.
Other favorite inspirational thoughts from Tillie include:
- People worry too much about the little things.
- Try to be the type of person that makes lemon out of lemonade.
- Put on a happy face, not a gloomy face; people don’t want to see a gloomy face.
- The number of good people outweighs the number of bad people.
- Life has lots of hardships but we eventually get over struggles.
- Don’t take anything for granted.
A plaque hanging on the wall behind Tillie’s desk helps express her positive attitude:
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…
It’s about learning to dance in the rain
Tillie said the plaque was give to her by realtor Lisa Barnes many years ago. Lisa thought it was appropriate for the way Tillie lives her life. Tillie said the plaque has become her mantra.
The words on this plaque words never rang truer than during those first months after Hurricane Harvey. Tillie hoped the words encouraged hope in neighbors and helped to strengthen flood survivors’ spirits, both Bellaire residents and coworkers. Many who had lost everything sat in the city’s front offices by Tillie’s desk. Some were crying, not knowing what they were going to do. Tillie tried her best to cheer them up. Those were tough days.
One of Tillie’s funnier memories was during a rather heated feral cat issue in the community. A few people decided a creative solution would be to capture some of the neighborhood feral cats and relocate them to the grounds of City Hall to roam around. Thankfully the cats were released outside and not into the building.
Many are curious about the Elvis collection on Tillie’s desk. She’s always liked Elvis’ music and friends and residents just started bringing her Elvis collectibles over the years. Friend and coworker Tracy Dutton shared that one of the funnier Elvis items Tillie received was a Valentine’s heart-shaped candy box with Elvis’ picture on the front. Tillie appreciated the gift but she and coworkers were a little disappointed when they realized the person had brought the empty box and already eaten the chocolates inside!
Daily contact with residents that are just like family is what Tillie will miss the most about working for the City of Bellaire, she says. It always felt good when someone would call or come by and she was able to help them get the information they needed and hopefully feel better when they left. Tillie has enjoyed working under three city managers and numerous mayors and city councilmembers.
Retirement plans include sitting back, relaxing, decluttering and enjoying her family and friends. Tillie lives in Bellaire so you might be lucky enough to see her around the neighborhood including at her church, Faith Lutheran, and at other activities including the Bellaire Historical Society and the Friends of the Bellaire Library.
Tillie’s last day will be Friday, June 29, 2018. Best wishes and thank you for 21 great years!
“City of Bellaire!”
Nobody’s ever said it better! (or over a million times!)
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