Gretchen Johnson

While growing up, it never once crossed my mind to move away from this area. Other friends and acquaintances have done so with much success and I admire them but for me this is “home.”

I was born and raised in a home my parents built in 1954 on Allegheny Avenue in Cranberry Township. We were one block from the city limits, so even though I went to Cranberry Schools the rest of my interaction with church, businesses, school, etc. was in Oil City. I had the best of both worlds.

At 22-years-old, I married and purchased a home on West First Street and have been there 31 years this year. Some may say living only two places in your life is boring but it has been nothing but a blessing to me.

My first job was a work/study library aide at Venango Campus, Clarion State College (as it was known at that time). I worked there while earning an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and for a short time after graduation in the Administrative Office as well. I then became employed for seven years as the receptionist/secretary at Daugherty Brothers Real Estate.

In 1993, I started an entry level civil service position as a Clerk-Typist with the Oil City Housing Authority. Over the last almost 24 years, I have held six progressive job titles and in May 2015, I was honored to be named Executive Director.

Success to me is doing the best at whatever task is at hand – no matter how big or small. I love to say “bloom where you are planted” and, looking back over the last 30 years, I feel that I have done just that enjoying success at every level of my journey because I was “blooming” right here in Venango County—my home.

My free time is spent with family and friends in a variety of activities. I am blessed that my children, grandchildren, and extended family all live here as well. Church is a big part of my life and as a member of the Franklin Church of the Nazarene, I participate as an offering counter and Missions treasurer.

Small town life doesn’t have to be boring! Landscaping and gardening are my passions and, with loving the outdoors as I do, I am blessed to be in an area where nature’s beauty abounds. My favorite view is out my back windows—the Allegheny River! We spend time walking the bikes trails, boating on the Allegheny, riding ATV’s in the woods, visiting local parks with grandkids, or just taking a walk in our beautiful neighborhoods.

My husband is from Franklin so we love to visit the parks, restaurants and shops there. We also spend time antiquing—finding an old treasure in any of the local stores makes me smile!

Looking towards the future, I hope to continue to serve the residents of the Oil City Housing Authority and work towards improving affordable housing options in our area. That’s not always an easy task when dealing with funding and regulations, but my heart is in it for the long-run. I am also interested in getting involved in volunteering for any local organizations that serve this area.

I think my passion for Venango County is etched in my heart so deeply because my family is generations strong in this area. Stories from my mother who grew up during the depression on Central Avenue, of her visits “out on the farm”, as a young girl selling vegetables on a cart through the Southside neighborhoods of Oil City and decades of stories of Oil City history are precious memories.

My father, Bob Groot, owned and operated a roofing business for 47 years. Custom slate work and tinwork were his trademarks. As a little girl, I remember seeing him standing on the edge of roofs such as Grace United Methodist or climbing the steeple of St. Joseph’s and heard stories of scaling the Venango County Courthouse roof. To this day, riding through the streets of any town in Venango County I can see his handiwork and remember which houses in the neighborhoods he worked on. That’s a precious legacy that binds my heart to Venango County and fuels my desire to call this area home.

I believe this area is a jewel –a hidden treasure overflowing with beautiful scenery, a wealth of history, gorgeous homes with unique architecture, quaint shops, quality schools, neighborhoods that are a great place to raise a family, and outdoor activities to meet everyone’s needs. But at the heart of it all are the people—dedicated, hard-working, loyal—as I drive through the streets of this area it warms my heart to see so many neighbors and friends. Even strangers aren’t strangers because I call this my home.