Valley Regional Fire Authority’s Gwen Streeter retires

No statistics are available to tell us how common a bubbly personality, high intelligence, compassion and an inexhaustible sense of humor are to records specialists, but the Valley Regional Fire Authority’s Gwen Streeter has these qualities in truckloads.

As anyone who has met Streeter in the front office of the VRFA’s Station 31 over the last 10 years — or when she was growing up in Auburn as Gwen Sutherland — knows well.

Streeter has now retired. Her last day on the job was Wednesday, Dec. 29. She and her husband, Todd, are moving to Arizona, where they plan to enjoy golfing, hiking, camping and traveling.

“My years as part of the VRFA have been some of the most rewarding of my career,” Streeter said. “I have been able to provide assistance to the citizens of my hometown and use my knowledge of Auburn and surrounding cities.”

Streeter will be missed, colleagues say.

“It takes a special person to bring positive energy and humor to the workplace and to help others genuinely enjoy coming to work,” said Fire Chief Brad Thompson. “Gwen brings such a light to the VRFA and those that she interacts with every day. She is also the person most turn to when they need help with just about anything.

“We will all very much miss Gwen’s smile, laughter, and all that she does for each of us,” Thompson added. “I am personally very grateful for having had the opportunity to work alongside Gwen.”

After graduating from North Auburn Elementary School in 1974, Cascade Junior High in 1977 and Auburn High School in 1980 and then Knapp College of Business, Streeter began a long career in public service. In 1989, she started working for the state of Washington, then worked at the cities of Tukwila and Enumclaw between 1997 and 2011, and in that latter year joined the VRFA.

In her decade of service here, Streeter excelled in serving members of the VRFA community. One supervisor even referred to her as “Director of Customer Service.”

In addition to her regular duties, she has the gift of calming citizens who walk in with medical emergencies and simultaneously alerting Firefighter/EMT’s of the situation.

One day a person, aware of the Safe Place for Newborns Act, placed a baby mere hours old into Streeter’s arms. She and some on-duty firefighter/EMT’s cared for the infant until social services could respond.

In 2018, Streeter received the VRFA Professional Excellence Award in recognition of her significant professional response and the extraordinary compassion she showed to a human being in crisis.

Streeter’s coworkers said they are grateful for the fun and camaraderie she brings to the office each day. She has always had a tender spot for animals and will be remembered for feeding the birds and bunnies at Station 31, rescuing feral cats and injured birds.

“Gwen is compassionate, empathetic, and provides excellent customer service to the public and staff,” said coworker Angie Boyle. “The occasional blood pressure check visit by a citizen turns into a daily visit once they meet Gwen. She has such a way of putting people at ease and making them laugh.

“She always has a story to share, can tell you almost anything about the history of Auburn, and could be a winning contestant on Jeopardy for her knowledge of movies and music,” said Boyle.

“I’ll always remember the first time I met Gwen – it was very apparent that she was filled with kindness, compassion, and energy. She has never failed to live up to that, and I’m not alone in saying that she will be very missed,” said her supervisor and the VRFA’s Chief Financial Officer, Mark Horaski.

Gwen Streeter, nee Sutherland, center, in her fifth-grade class photo, 1972-73. Robert Whale photo

Gwen Streeter, nee Sutherland, center, in her fifth-grade class photo, 1972-73. Robert Whale photo