Woman hits 40 years of managing Seymour apartment complex


Myra Mellencamp doesn’t need an introduction when she enters the room.

Everyone is familiar with the Jamestown Seymour Apartments property manager and the impact she has made on hundreds of lives over her career.

"In the Gene B. Glick Company, you don’t have to say Myra Mellencamp. You say ‘Myra’ and it’s like ‘Oprah,’" said Destiney Webb, a regional property manager with Glick. "She’s well known for her hard work and dedication and her spunk. She has a fiery zest. She’s very passionate about what she does."

On Tuesday, Mellencamp celebrated 40 years working at the apartment complex located at 745 Miller Lane on the city’s south side.

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Residents and members of the Glick Company surprised Mellencamp with a party in a meeting area on the property’s campus.

The Medora native has lived her entire life in Jackson County, including the past 41 years in Seymour.

In 1979, at the age of 20, Mellencamp was hired to oversee the property, which had been open for just 10 months.

The complex was completed in December 1978, and all of the buildings were occupied.

"When I was hired, the position was called rental manager. It was very different back then," Mellencamp said. "We were in charge of renting the apartments out."

Jamestown Apartments is a Housing and Urban Development Section 8 property for low-income individuals. There is a lot of paperwork involved to determine a person’s rent based on their income, she said.

"I learned that process. It was a little less complicated those days," Mellencamp said. "As the years have gone on, HUD has made a lot of changes."

The Seymour property has 150 apartments with about 300 adults and children living there.

Mellencamp said changes in technology have made the job much more complicated but more efficient over the years.

"When I first came to work here, there was no copier. There was a desk, a filing cabinet, a calculator and a typewriter," Mellencamp said. "I still have that typewriter. I seldom use it, but we use it to make labels for mailboxes on it."

She was on the job for a year before they got a copier.

"We used carbon paper back in those days when I first started," she said. "We manually calculated the rent with the elderly and disabled. I still know how to do that. I double-check all my files to make sure I haven’t made an error. It’s all entered in the computer now."

Around 1989, Mellencamp got her first computer.

"Its only purpose was to calculate rent and do HUD certification," she said. "Everything else was still done manually. As the years have gone on, everything went electronic. It has made life a lot easier."

After 33 years of working the job by herself, an assistant property manager, Wendy Cash, was hired. The tandem have worked together for seven and a half years now.

"(Mellencamp) is the best boss I have ever had," Cash said. "She is fair and very compassionate, not just to me but to the residents’ needs. She’s just a good lady all around."

Mellencamp said Cash has made a big difference at the property.

"I couldn’t do it on my own anymore," she said. "The volume of paperwork and things we have to take care of has increased. Our property also has a person that is a service coordinator, which is basically a social worker who works with our residents."

Many of Mellencamp’s duties don’t take place inside her office.

"We often are social workers in addition to being on the property staff," she said. "We have many long-term residents here. Eighty-eight of our apartments are one bedroom that are for people 50 and over. A lot of those folks are long term."

The most difficult part of the job is when tenants pass away or have to move into a nursing home, Mellencamp said.

Earlier this month, she helped a grieving family after a tenant died.

"For a lot of people, this is probably the last home they will have on their own," she said. "We get to know their families, and a lot of them are very close to us. A lot of these folks don’t have a lot of family. We really try to help them in any way we can."

Diane Field has lived at Jamestown since 1993 and said Mellencamp is great at what she does.

"I’ve known Myra for a long time. Myra truly cares about the residents here and the property being taken care of," Field said. "She knows her job inside and out. If you meet her halfway, she will go more than a mile."

Field said when she moved to Seymour, she had only lived in Indiana for about a year.

"She has helped a lot of people with all of the services around here," Field said of Mellencamp. "There are a lot of things people don’t know about. She really just goes out of her way. Everyone has a story."

Another person at Mellencamp’s party was Glick senior vice president Jim Bisesi.

"I’ve known Myra for 40 years. I just celebrated my 60th with the company," Bisesi said. "I’ve gotten to know her over time. She’s dedicated to the people she serves. I think she genuinely cares about the property."

Any time a problem needs fixed at another property, Webb said she calls on Mellencamp.

Mellencamp has been sent to properties in Kentucky, Florida and the Carolinas, among other locations.

"She is really looked up highly to in our company," Webb said. "She is one of the first people we call when a property has a new manager and needs a mentor or if we have a property in trouble and need someone to pull it out of a slump. Myra is always the one we think of and call on first to do that."

Webb said Mellencamp’s compassion is what sets her apart.

"Not only does she care about her residents, but she also gives back to her community, the whole Seymour area," Webb said. "The impact she has made all throughout Seymour is something I look up to."

Mellencamp spends a lot of time volunteering in her free time.

She is co-chairwoman of Rock’n Ready, which is a school supply distribution program that serves more than 1,000 kids each year. She also is treasurer of the Jackson County Drug-Free Council and Jackson County Community Service Council and is on the board for Human Services Inc. and the Seymour Housing Authority.

While she has spent two-thirds of her life in her position, Mellencamp doesn’t see herself retiring any time soon.

"I like helping people and trying to help them improve their lives," she said. "Now that I’m 60, people ask me if I’m going to retire. Not any time soon. If I’m healthy, I will stay here as long as I can. I can’t imagine not working. Even if I did retire, I would be involved in some way."

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