Employee Spotlight: Alberta Asmar

The staff of the Reuther Library would like to honor and extend grateful appreciation to an outstanding Wayne State University (WSU) employee, Ms. Alberta Asmar, who has retired after 46 years of dedicated service to various Departments and Colleges within WSU.

Alberta started her career at WSU on November 8, 1965 as an Office Clerk I in the Audio Visual Department Utilization Center. In 1978 she transferred to the Weekend College to work with Assistant Dean Carlton Maley in the Criminal Justice Building on the North Campus. She joined the Reuther family in 1987 as the Secretary to the Director, and worked with Phillip P. Mason (1987-1992) and Dr. Leslie S. Hough (1992-1997). From 1997-2011 she served the Reuther as Secretary III.

As you might imagine, with such a record of service behind her, Alberta has pretty much seen it all. She witnessed the transformation of the campus, both physically and administratively, and worked with everyone from technicians to dignitaries such as Walter Mondale and Douglas Fraser. Among the countless people she met over the years, there are six individuals Alberta remembers most fondly: Dr. Mason, Tony Spina, Irv and Zelda Bluestone, Dores McCree, and Sharon Woodcock.

When asked what she found most interesting about her 24 years at the Reuther, her response was an enthusiastic “Everything!” Specifically, she enjoyed learning more about records we care for, meeting the people who came to do research, and planning events like the Local History Conference. Her time working with Dr. Mason, which spanned his directorship, was particularly satisfying in that he was actively involved in the archival profession and was continuously involved in a number of interesting projects, including numerous oral histories.

Upon being asked why now is the time to retire, Alberta stated in her typical matter-of-fact manner, "I really liked the Reuther Conference Room, but I don't think I have to be laid out there." With that in mind, she plans to continue to volunteer her services as Secretary for the Michigan Labor History Program and will retain an office at the Reuther. When asked what she will miss most about the Library, her answer is the staff; many of whom she considers extended family. The feeling is mutual.

Retirements are bittersweet affairs. Alberta is the heart and soul of the Reuther. She is our institutional memory, the recorder of our history, and an enthusiastic assistant to anyone who had a need — whether it was an archivist who needed a quick memo, an out-of-town researcher who needed help with setting up accommodations, or a student assistant who simply needed a smile and words of encouragement. We will miss her cheerful, gracious nature and quick wit, but the things we will miss most about her cannot really be defined. Quite simply, she is Alberta, and if you have had the privilege of knowing her, you will know exactly what that means.

Elizabeth Clemens is an Audiovisual Archivist for the Walter P. Reuther Library.