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Retirement: Dolores Paredes looks to travel, family in next chapter

Dolores Paredes celebrated her last day as program coordinator at Williams Senior Center Nov. 21. (Loretta Yerian/WGCN)

Dolores Paredes celebrated her last day as program coordinator at Williams Senior Center Nov. 21. (Loretta Yerian/WGCN)

WILLIAMS, Ariz. — Williams Senior Center may seem a little emptier now after Dolores Paredes, coordinator and long-time cook at the center, retired Nov. 21.

Paredes is originally from a small town located in the mountains of northern New Mexico. Because of the landscape and elevation, which is very similar to Williams, Paredes said it was easy to adjust to her home in Williams after she and her husband, Manuel Paredes, decided to move. The couple was just passing through Williams and she said they decided to stay.

“He got a job and we just stayed,” she said. “So this is where I raised my children and I’ve worked here at the center for a little over 22 years.”

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Dolores Paredes retirement party was held Nov. 22 at the Williams Senior Center. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

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Dolores Paredes worked at the William Senior Center as a cook and program coordinator for more than 20 years. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

Paredes started out as a part-time cook at Williams Senior Center in 1997, spending 17 years in that position before taking over as the center’s program coordinator in 2014.

Paredes said her family has always been recognized for their cooking abilities, a skill she learned early in life. Parades learned how to cook through trial and error and possibly out of duty — her mother died when she was 10 years old and she and her sister were left with house-keeping and cooking responsibilities.

“When that happened, my sister and I kind of worked together and I did the cooking and she did sewing. I can’t sew anything and she can’t cook, so it was a natural thing,” she said. “My family has a reputation for being good cooks.”

Paredes is the youngest of 12 children.

Paredes learned cooking and management skills through prior jobs including managing Old Smokey’s Restaurant and Little Fat Lady restaurant in Williams. She said she has enjoyed being able to provide home-cooked meals to Williams’ seniors.

“As a cook in Williams this is a great job,” she said. “It started out there, but as I came and Armando Padilla was the coordinator at that time and we just got a long so well. I ended up staying and doing a little bit more and a little bit more.”

In 2018, Paredes was recognized for her 20 years of service with Coconino County, having prepared and served more than 85,000 meals to seniors and the disabled.

In addition to working for the center, Paredes took care of her family raising five children of her own and one that she counts as hers. Her husband, a wood-cutter in Williams, died 19 years ago.

In 2014, Paredes said she took over as coordinator from Max Bishop. Because of her experience, it was a smooth transition.

“Max and I did a lot of things together, he gave me a lot more responsibility, so it was an easy transition to make to coordinator because I had been doing a lot of the things,” she said.

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The Williams Senior Center celebrated Dolores Paredes’ retirement Nov. 22, giving her a casserole pan and six $100 bills. (Wendy Howell/WGCN)

As program coordinator, Paredes helps coordinate the center’s Meals on Wheels program that serves hot meals to senior citizens in Williams. She also helps arrange for medical transports and shopping excursions, in addition to helping coordinate special out of town trips for seniors and coordinating games and events at the center for seniors to enjoy.

Paredes said Meals on Wheels currently provides around 22 meals per day and serves between 25-30 people lunch at the center daily.

“I just make sure the center is running smoothly,” she said.

One of the most important parts of her job is to help provide social options for seniors and to provide a home-cooked meal for them to enjoy.

“To interact with each other is so important. To me, the most important thing is that they’re getting out and moving around and exercising. To come in here it’s better than staying home in front of the TV with a Snicker bar,” she said. “It’s an important program and I hope that we continue to get more people.”

Paredes said she would like to see younger seniors invest in and make use of the center.

“We need to get younger seniors because as time goes on people are working longer. Used to be that we would get 60-year-olds in here and now we have 80-year-olds, so there’s a little bit of a gap there,” she said.

Upon retirement, Paredes son, Francisco, will take over as cook at the senior center.

Paredes said she would like to thank the city of Williams for the years of commitment and efforts they have invested in the Senior Center.

“The city of Williams, they are wonderful,” she said. “If we need something as far as maintenance we call them and Tim Martinez is here. If we call John Moore he is here and is helping and the city council – if you go to Flagstaff, there’s the same program there and it’s funny to see the relationship between them and the city council. It’s all so prim and proper.”

In her retirement Paredes plans to travel and visit family.

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