‘Dedicated’ clerk retires after nearly four decades with the city

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published July 26, 2017

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CLAWSON — Things won’t be the same around City Hall after tomorrow.

City Clerk Machele Kukuk will say farewell when she retires July 27 after offering expertise and familiar smiles inside the North Main Street building since 1978.

“It will be the hardest saying goodbye,” she said. “It has always been my home. I am already getting emotional.”

Kukuk, 55, said that although she didn’t think she would retire at first, the recent passing of her sister and sister-in-law made her realize that life must be fully experienced with family.

“I kind of took a little look at life and I thought, ‘Life is short. We don’t know what tomorrow is,’” she said.

And so with family in her heart, Kukuk made the decision to act on her retirement eligibility.

The hometown girl began her career with the municipality in 1978 as part of the Clawson High School co-op program, and after two years away from City Hall, she returned full time in 1980.

“And the rest is kind of history,” she said. “It’s been a great job, and I can’t think of doing anything else.”

Kukuk said she had worked in every department before settling in as clerk in 1995. Since that time, she went on to earn her Master Municipal Clerk certification and many career accolades.

“Machele has dedicated her entire working career to public service in Clawson,” said City Manager Mark Pollock.

Pollock said he began with the city in 2000, and since his first day, Kukuk has always been eager to help.

“She has worked tirelessly to help others and has always been a hardworking and dedicated employee,” he said. “We wish her happiness and good health in her retirement, and lots of fun with her children and grandchildren. 

“We will miss her, but know how much she deserves this retirement.”

As part of her role as clerk, Kukuk worked with many city department heads and answered to the mayor and City Council, since the position is appointed.

“Machele inspired leadership and fostered a collaborative environment with different departments within the city,” said Mayor Penny Luebs. “She was the expert at record-keeping, bringing 35 years of experience and knowledge to everyday tasks.”

The mayor and members of City Council honored Kukuk during their July 18 meeting.

Kukuk said when she thinks back on her entire career, she’s done about it all — from changing individual plates for every water bill to be printed back before computers were utilized, to being a 911 dispatcher, to working late into the evening on election nights. She said she always enjoyed being helpful no matter what department she was in, and she never backed down from a challenge. She said she also loved interacting with the community.

“I was never bored, I can tell you that,” Kukuk said. “And I’m OK with change and doing a variety of things.

“A day won’t go by that I don’t get up and work on the postage machine or work on the copy machine. I’m kind of a jack of all trades.”

Kukuk said she most looks forward to spending time with her three grandchildren, two daughters, and husband, Bill, who is also retiring this summer. All three of her grandchildren are younger than 6.

Kukuk said she feels very fortunate to retire at a young age so she can savor what life has to offer at this moment in time.

“I want to enjoy my family and my kids, and I thought, ‘It’s probably time to do that if I could,’” she said.

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