WELLSBURG - Those who work in downtown Wellsburg or who have visited it with any regularity have seen him: a small man wearing large glasses and a ballcap, checking the city's parking meters and in some cases, leaving a small gold envelope on a vehicle's windshield to be returned with the fine owed for parking beyond the allotted time.
Many would call it a thankless job, but it was one that Alan Gene Pittman performed with cheerfulness and kindness toward everyone he encountered.
And Pittman, who died Feb. 27 at the age of 68, will be remembered for his friendly nature and eagerness to go above and beyond his appointed duties, said those at Wellsburg City Hall who knew him well.
"He was waiting every morning to open the door for us and tell us 'Good morning,'" said Dena Verner, administrative secretary for the city.
She and others noted Pittman always arrived early to sweep the steps, water the flowers or otherwise police the area.
"He was into his job because he'd always sweep up around City Hall and make it look nice. He went above and beyond what he had to do. And he'd always do whatever he could to help," said City Police Chief Stanley Kins.
Kins' wife, Judy, said Pittman was known to check on seniors who lived near his routes. And she was visited often by him at her Charles Street store during a time when she was battling cancer, Kins added.
"He looked out for everybody in town. Can I help you with that, he'd say," said Mayor Sue Simonetti, adding, "The people of City Hall were like his family."
Kay Traubert, assistant to Collector-Treasurer Francine Kraus, recalled how he'd not only take her to the bank to deposit any funds collected during the day, but also give her a ride home on rainy or icy days.
Simonetti said it was Pittman's nature to help others. A 1963 graduate of Wellsburg High School, he worked for a time at Russ Craft's service station in town.
Pittman once commented on how gasoline stations have changed from the days when he and other service station personnel came out to wash each vehicle's windshield and "check everything under the hood."
Simonetti said while working at the station, the diminutive Pittman would stand on a stool so he could reach the windshields.
"No obstacle was too great for him. He always overcame every obstacle and did it with a smile," she said.
Judy Kins noted many commented on his high energy.
"He walked fast. People would say, where did he come from?" she said.
Newcomers to the city were cautioned not to leave an expired meter unattended for long.
But while he took his job of checking meters and distributing fine envelopes very seriously, it was the day-to-day contact with a variety of people that he truly enjoyed, Judy Kins said.
Several years ago a group was sent by the West Virginia University Extension Service and Wellsburg City Council for a secret visit to the city to gather impressions of the town and its people with the intent of making it more attractive to visitors and potential new businesses and residents.
One observer remarked the city should eliminate its parking meters but not the friendly meter attendant, who he suggested should be made a visitors guide.
In 2006 Pittman was named the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year. Judy Kins admitted she nominated him for the honor "because I felt in my heart that he deserved it."
"That really made his day. He was on Cloud 9 for months and months," she said, adding, "I'm glad I was a part of that."
Traubert said Pittman, who also was a member of the Wellsburg Moose Lodge, commented last week that he enjoyed his life.
"I said, 'That's great. That's how it's supposed to be,'" she said.
After receiving the Citizen of the Year award, he said he liked the people of Wellsburg.
"They're very friendly," he said.
Daniell Diserio, the clerk for the city's water and sewer departments, said, "Gene was a kind soul, with a huge loving heart. He was always eager to help anyone he could and was happy to do it."
She added, "He loved to talk and tell stories, and he loved his friends more than anything. He was always in a pleasant mood, happy to be here working. He had a smile for everyone and we will miss him dearly."
Verner agreed, saying, "I know he touched a lot of people's hearts in Wellsburg. He was the kindest, most friendly man you'd ever meet. He was true gentleman."
Staff at City Hall have posted a tribute to Pittman on the bulletin board outside. It includes a caricature of Pittman drawn by a security guard at the Brooke County Magistrate Court and photos of him on the job and at community events, including his acceptance of the Citizen of the Year award.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)