Already a winner: Art Ristau retires from lottery boardJeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff Photo
Art Ristau of Barre unwraps a huge thank-you card during a retirement celebration for the long-time public servant on Wednesday.
BERLIN — As the Vermont Lottery explores adding electronic games to appeal to younger generations, commission Chairwoman Martha O’Connor credits one person for pushing the idea.
That person, a Vermont Lottery Commission member since 2001, is Arthur Ristau, who was also a staple of Vermont state government under three governors. On Wednesday, he retired from the commission by attending his last meeting.
The state lottery is looking at new ways to reach players through anything from Internet gaming to keno. But Ristau’s vision helped the commission focus in that direction, O’Connor said.
“He encouraged people to look into the future ... and the longer-range picture as opposed to just short term,” said Vermont Lottery Executive Director Greg Smith.
In the fall, the state marked a milestone of sending $500 million in profits to the state, Smith said. The lottery is in its 35th year. The profits previously went into the general fund, but in 1998 the Legislature mandated that the money go to the education fund.
During a reception after Wednesday’s meeting, Smith recounted some of the 79-year-old Ristau’s job experiences, which have included serving as the administrative assistant to Gov. Philip Hoff, director of the State Planning Office and transportation secretary for Gov. Thomas Salmon, and Liquor Control Department commissioner under Gov. Madeleine Kunin.
“What he’s saying is I just can’t hold a job,” Ristau said, drawing laughs from commissioners and staff members.
But Ristau, a Barre resident, said he wouldn’t have been able to pursue so many different opportunities in state government had it not been for his wife, Anita. She worked as the head of the nursing department at Norwich University and later as the executive director of the Vermont State Board of Nursing.
“My wife was my job security,” he said after the reception, which she attended. “I never had to worry about being able to support my family, pay my kids’ college tuition and meet expenses because my wife was my rock.”
Smith presented Ristau with retirement gifts Wednesday, including a life-size foam cutout of golf clubs and a golfer in the green jacket of a Masters tournament winner. A photo of Ristau’s face took the place of the golfer’s.
As Ristau thanked the commission and staff, he recalled the dedication and skills that he noticed in the office while serving as a member. He also said he made a point of knowing staff members’ names and learning about them.
He said he’d never forget a moment when he saw an information technology specialist, Ellen Pulsifer, kneeling on the floor to fix a computer.
“It’s typical of the skills and dedication of the people here in this room,” he said. “You’re valued, valued colleagues.”
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