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  • Happy (second) retirement to a true gem: Joan Chawziuk

    PORTSMOUTH—With her ever-present charm (and omnipresent pup Lucy) seeing Joan Chawziuk can’t help but make you smile.  

    And we might be smiling less these days, if it weren’t for the boatful of memories the long time Portsmouth tour guide has given us to buoy our spirits. 

    You see, about February 2022, Joan Chawziuk retired (again). 

    Joan began her tour guide time with the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth, then known as the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce, in 1998, after her roles as a teacher (18 years) and librarian (8.5 years) ended. And after she ended her first retirement. 

    Joan did not take well to retirement (there was not enough to keep her mind occupied) and therefore sought part-time employment in 1998. The then fledgling, Harbour Trail* was beginning and needed a guide. Joan’s skills in teaching and research, as well as her love of the city and her desire to tell its fascinating story enabled her to obtain the present position of tour guide and coordinator. 

    One of women that worked alongside Joan for many of her Portsmouth tour guide and tour coordinator years was Valerie Rochon—you all remember Valerie!—who retired from the Chamber herself as chief collaborator and president in the spring of 2021. 

    “Every customer comment the Chamber received from guests who enjoyed one of Joan's walking or bus tours was that they loved her wealth of historic knowledge, her wit, and her grace,” said Rochon. “That sums up Joan perfectly. She has been very proud of being the oldest step-on** bus tour guide in New Hampshire, while exhibiting the energy of a teenager. She has been and will always be my role model, and I wish her health and happiness in her well-deserved retirement.” 

    Joan's tours took her from historic homes to trademark tugboats and the working waterfront, to lunch spots such as Popovers in vibrant Market Square. Yum. 

    As Joan said in an interview with well-known local historian J. Dennis Robinson, and published in the local newspaper, “I love being in town. The energy is great. I’m having fun out there, and it doesn’t take people five minutes to figure that out.” 

    We know that Joan’s energy is great as well, and it doesn’t take people 2 minutes to figure it out. We are so lucky to have enjoyed it for so long. Michelle and Ben and Judy and Nate and Jenn, and all the Visitors Assistants and tour takers will miss you dearly, Joan! Don't be a stranger. The door to 500 Market Street is always open to you (and your little dog, too!)


    *The Harbour Trail: Portsmouth boasts 400 years of history, culture, architecture, and scenic beauty, and you can see it all along the Portsmouth Harbour Trail. Information: https://www.goportsmouthnh.com/portsmouth-harbor-trail-tours/ 

    **The role of a Step-On Guide in our parlance is someone who steps on a charter bus and gives a tour to the captive audience until they step off again.