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From left, Supervisor Lori Simpson, David Eisenman, Hank Eisenman, Judy Eisenman and Josh Eisenman are shown on the occasion when the Plumas County Board of Supervisors honored Hank for his many years of services to various boards and commissions benefiting the residents of the county. Photo by Victoria Metcalf

Supervisors honor longtime volunteer

It was a good way to celebrate his 86th birthday.

Hank Eisenman, a Quincy resident since 1972, was with his wife, his son and his grandson to say farewell to many of the people he’s worked with as he volunteered his time to help others for more than 30 years. His goal was always to serve the people in need and make sure their voices were heard, stated one person after another.

“I’m happy to hear that the board is finally recognizing Hank,” said retired Plumas County Mental Health Director John Seibel in a letter read by Supervisor Lori Simpson.

Seibel went on to say that Eisenman started in 1989 on the Mental Health advisory board. Those were the days when Lloyd Crawford was the director of the department. Seibel was a therapist at the time.

But Eisenman went on to serve on the board for the former alcohol and drug program, Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center when it formed, and others.

Honors all around

It was standing room only with Hank Eisenman and his wife, Judy in front row seats in the Board of Supervisors chambers Dec. 11.

“I’ve never known anyone who has served so long or so well,” said Simpson as she asked Eisenman to step forward for official recognition.

In a Resolution of Appreciation and Recognition from Supervisors, Simpson read the words deemed appropriate from some of the Behavioral Health staff that knew him best.

Henry ‘Hank’ Eisenman was born in the Bronx and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Syracuse University and then joined the Korean War effort serving from 1957 to 1959.

When Eisenman returned home, he finished his college education and earned his degree in forestry. “Hank’s first job after college was working as a Hotshot firefighter on the Angeles National Forest.” Thus trading the life style of the East Coast for that of the West Coast.

It seems that the climate agreed with the man, he never left. He moved on to the Klamath National Forest, then the Mendocino and finally the Plumas National Forest. It was here he decided to set down roots.

“Hank, his wife Judy and their family moved to Plumas County in 1972,” according to the resolution. It was during his early career on the Plumas that he was asked to counsel employees who were experiencing work conflicts. Some believe that Eisenman took the job to heart and over the years began working with others.

It was Crawford who invited Eisenman to act as the county’s first patient’s rights advocate — “A role he has filled for more than 28 years.”

As mentioned, Eisenman has served on or chaired the Mental Health Commission (Behavioral Health), PCIRC and the local Area Agency on Aging. Supervisors officially thanked him for his long-time public service “and wish him well for a much-deserved retirement.”

Simpson went on to explain that Eisenman also served on the Sheriff’s Office Citizens Committee.

And “he never misses a meeting! Never!” Simpson stated. When he arrives at a meeting he’s done his homework and has always had pertinent information to share with the board about topics of concern.

“I can’t say enough about him,” Simpson said. “He’s been an excellent volunteer.”

From the audience

Former PCIRC Executive Director Dennis Thibeault said he was a bit taken aback the first time he met the man. He just strolled into my office one day, which I learned was a habit of his. It was called “office crashing” and laughter from the audience indicated others were also familiar with Eisenman’s tendency. He was known to go around secretaries, ignore making appointments, and just showed up — at any time during the day, at anyone’s office.

Thibeault said he actually got to the point where he looked forward to Eisenman arriving unannounced. “He’s Quincy’s version of Socrates,” he said.

Psychiatric nurse Joyce Clare was the next to take the floor. She announced that the occasion was also Eisenman’s birthday and handed him a bouquet of balloons. Eisenman stepped forward and revealed his age.

Referring to Eisenman’s New York accent, which he’s never softened, Clare said that it took her awhile to understand that she was really just engaged in a civil conversation with the man. She wasn’t in trouble. She added that he would be missed.

Current PCIRC Executive Director Johanna Downey told Eisenman that he meant a great deal to a great many people. “Blessings to you today, especially on your birthday.”

Retired Mental Health/Behavior Health therapist Michael Gunter was also well aware of Eisenman’s office crashing practice. “Hank, you can’t do this,” was a common thing for Gunter to tell him. It didn’t seem to matter to Eisenman whose office he crashed, whether it was a therapist with a client or anyone. Gunter said that the man tended to laugh, but his underlying meaning was that he wanted the best for those clients.

Gunter said he never knew Eisenman to be concerned about the time he devoted to others. And the complaints he brought forward “were never unfounded.”

“If I gave you a hard time, it was with the best of intensions,” Gunter said.

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