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Retired but not tired

Well-wishers gather to celebrate Washburn’s 40 years of service

Posted: January 2, 2009 9:28 p.m.
Updated: January 3, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Daniele Washburn, an employee at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, is greeted by co-workers in the hospital's cafeteria where her retirement party took place Tuesday afternoon. Washburn has been involved with Newhall Memorial for 40 years.

The line of doctors, nurses and hospital staff snaked around the cafeteria's double doors and spread into Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital's long hallway.

They were waiting to say farewell to Daniele Washburn, who stood at the front of the single-file line.

One by one, the doctors in white coats and nurses in uniforms hugged the petite 66-year-old woman and offered praise and thanks.

Many posed for photos in between chats about the past.

Others took a break to munch on desserts and sign farewell cards while watching a video projection of Washburn snorkeling in an exotic underwater location.

The well-wishers gathered Tuesday to celebrate Washburn's nearly 40 years of service to the Valencia hospital.

Washburn, an application analyst for the hospital's information services department, retired Friday.

She is one of the longest-working employees at the hospital.

Washburn started at Hillside Community Hospital in February 1969, which became Newhall Memorial in 1975.

Washburn, who was born in Africa, began as a cashier, but worked her way up to manage and supervise departments.

Her initial interest was surgery. She took classes to become a nurse and earned a certificate as an emergency medical technician.

She got sidetracked when officials gave her a computer, leading her to take business classes and build her knowledge.

"I love technology and I love people," she said in a French accent. "I really do. What makes me happy is that when I go somewhere and I can solve a problem. I think that's what it is all about."

Until her role as an application analyst, Washburn served the hospital as a system analyst, overseeing the creation and implementation of hospital-wide systems for the staff.

Washburn grew up in Africa and later lived in France, but bounced around the world as her father served in the French army. She credits growing up in Africa for her globe-trotter lifestyle.

"That's what gave me my sense of adventure," she said.

Travel continues to remain a part of her life.

"This made me a better person," she said.

She ended up in Santa Clarita when she married.

Washburn, a Castaic resident, remained busy earning a master's degree in business administration while working full-time and raising her son.

Washburn is also known for her extreme hobbies.

"I do everything," she said in her French accent. "I jump off airplanes; I collect fossils."
She also climbs mountains.

"One of my goals is to do Mt. Kilimanjaro," she said.

During a trip to Mexico, Washburn fought a bull in a bullfighting arena.

Washburn retired to make time for all of her hobbies and goals.

Her top priority is finishing a biography of her father.

As always, she wants to continue travelling. So far, she's seen about 95 percent of Europe, much of South America, the United States and numerous countries in Africa and Asia.

Washburn formed friendships with countless people at the hospital.

"She's a people person," said Cindy Peterson, chief information officer for the hospital. "She's so supportive of the physicians."

David Bernard, support coordinator for the hospital, considers Washburn an integral part of the Information Services department.

"She's a very positive person," Bernard said. "She has a passion for life. I just wish her the best."


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