Town Hall is losing someone the mayor once referred to as the “heart and soul” of Cary.
At the end of the month, Sue Rowland will step down as town clerk after 22 years on the job.
The Cary Town Council recently hired Sherry Scoggins, the town clerk in Clayton, to take over Rowland’s position.
From acting as custodian of public documents to managing town committees, Rowland has been integral to town operations as Cary has grown by thousands of people and several square miles.
“We tried to convince her to stay,” said Ben Shivar, Cary’s town manager.
But the 51-year-old says she has a “bucket list item” to check off: becoming a personal trainer.
“I figure I’d better do it now before I get too old,” Rowland said.
The two careers might seem to have nothing in common. While preparing Town Council agendas and signing important documents don’t exactly translate to lower cholesterol and firm abs, Rowland says her government job served as more of a springboard than some might think.
Whether talking with residents about water bills or weight-loss goals, “The focus is about the individual person … being honest and helpful,” she said.
Those who know Rowland are confident she’ll succeed because she has specialized in one-on-one communication and customer service for years.
Before becoming clerk, Rowland worked in the prison system to help inmates with substance-abuse issues. She has volunteered with The Center for Volunteer Caregiving, a nonprofit that offers help for seniors and adults with disabilities.
“She’s an encourager. That’s her nature,” Cary Councilwoman Jennifer Robinson said.
But don’t let her warm personality fool you – Rowland is serious about exercising. She’s known as a workout fiend around the office.
“She’s a very athletic person and very health-conscious,” Shivar said. “It seems to be a next step for her that makes sense.”
Rowland loves hiking, weight-lifting and playing tennis. Right now, she’s on a cycling kick and is training to ride 100 miles to the coast later this year.
“Physical fitness is my passion outside of being town clerk,” she said. “It’s an outlet for my energy. ... I get up at 5 in the morning to work out if I have to.”
She thinks she’ll attain her certification by the end of August and begin taking on clients later this year.
“It’ll be different. ... Marketing myself goes against everything I’m about,” Rowland said.
If she needs a reference, Councilman Jack Smith would likely be glad to give it. Smith was on the Town Council that hired Rowland more than two decades ago.
“She’s not the type of person that’s going to hand you a list of 10 tips and send you on your way,” Smith said.
“She’s very creative, is an extremely good listener and will customize (a workout) to fit someone’s needs,” he said. “This is a great fit for her career.”