MARIETTA - Sworn in for her ninth term recently, Washington County Treasurer Dorothy Peppel is now Ohio's longest-serving county treasurer still in office.
Peppel was a teenager when she took a clerical job in the Washington County treasurer's office nearly 60 years ago. After all those years she's still in that office - and has spent more than half that time as county treasurer.
"I had a six-week stint with the F.W. Woolworth Company when they were located in the 200 block of Front Street," Peppel recalled. "But then I started working as a clerk in the treasurer's office. I was just 16 and had to have a permit in order to work there until I turned 18."
Longtime Washington County Treasurer Dorothy Peppel is shown at her desk. She was recently sworn into her ninth term of office and is Ohio’s longest-serving county treasurer still in office. (Photo by Sam Shawver)
That was in the 1950s, and clerical work was a bit more time-consuming in those pre-computerized days.
"We would type, on a manual typewriter, 64,000 tax bills," Peppel said. "It took two of us girls six weeks of steady typing to complete those bills. And each bill came in eight copies, and if we made a mistake we had to use a 'white eraser stick' on all eight copies."
Working under four different county treasurers, she eventually moved up from the clerk position to serve as deputy treasurer until 1980 when she was first elected on the Republican ticket.
"My opponent that year was Andy Young but, unfortunately for him, his job was transferred to West Virginia so he couldn't serve as a treasurer in Ohio," Peppel said. "I was also challenged in the 1988 election by the late Margaret Bowersock. But since then I've had no opponents in county elections."
Now at age 76, Peppel says, in spite of occasional grouchy taxpayers, she truly enjoys her work.
"When people get upset I don't take it personally. I've had this job as treasurer for more than 32 years, I have a great staff, and I just love the work," she said.
One of her staff members, clerk Tammy Bates, noted Ohio law basically defines Peppel's job as part-time.
"Technically the state code says she only has to be in the office once every 90 days," Bates said. "But that's not Dorothy. She's here between 6 and 7 a.m. every day. She's definitely not a part-time treasurer."
Ohio County Treasurers Association Executive Director Tom Steenrod confirmed Thursday that Peppel has been in office longer than any other county treasurer currently serving in the state.
"I did some research, and Dorothy is, indeed, the longest-serving treasurer in the state right now," he said. "She went into office in May 1980. In fact, she beats the next-closest serving treasurer by six years."