Public health leader is retiring

Apr 1, 2021 by

Published April 2, 2021

MELROSE — Health Director Ruth Clay is retiring.

The longtime public health official has for the past year been on the front line of the COVID pandemic, giving residents in both Melrose and Wakefield timely information and guidance as the world fought to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. She said Wednesday that she planned on retiring in 2020 but would not because of the pandemic.

“This is actually a little overdue,” Clay said of her announcement, made originally to staff in both the Melrose and Wakefield health offices Tuesday. “It’s not from burnout. It’s just time. I had planned on doing it last year but to not have been involved in this very challenging time was unthinkable. I am looking forward to seeing my family after a long year. I have a lot of plans, including doing a lot of traveling — when we can safely travel again.”

Clay has been the Melrose health director for 25 years, and she has overseen the office in Wakefield as well for the past 12. Before that, she served the town of Reading.

She will retire effective at the end of May. She said that leaves plenty of time for the communities of Wakefield and Melrose to find her successor.

Clay and her office staff have recently put on some very well-received COVID vaccination clinics both here and in Wakefield.

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