Director Hoyt Burrows: the man who runs it all

Since 2006, he’s been keeping folks in line — volunteers and employees alike.

If you ask Hoyt Burrows how he ended up as the executive director of Central Kitsap Food Bank, he’ll tell you it was an accident.

The original plan was to only stay at the job between six months and a year. He had been in the same position at the Bremerton Foodline, and he had planned to retire, really retire. He didn’t plan on continuing to work.

He was going to travel. His wife and he were going to visit friends. He wanted to spend time volunteering at other places that needed him.

But then someone forgot, or maybe didn’t want to look for a replacement once that year was up. Or, maybe Burrows was that good at the job.

He doesn’t really know.

“They couldn’t find anyone else to take the job,” he said. “I was only supposed to be here for a year, but then they never looked for anybody, and I never pressed it.”

Since 2006, he’s been keeping folks in line — volunteers and employees alike.

Now, he’s really going to retire, effective June 1.

The food bank’s office manager and bookkeeper, Ryoko Moseley, couldn’t say enough about Burrows. Yet talking too much about the executive director’s upcoming retirement makes her eyes water.

“He makes this working environment warm and comfortable,” said Mosley. “We respect each other; we understand each other.”

And while it may be difficult to leave the food bank, eight years after he initially planned to retire, Burrows feels as though he’s leaving on a good note. He was able to see the food bank into its new location, a much-needed space for food and those who come to pick it up.

He’s also impressed with the people he’s picked up along the way.

“I think we’ve built a great staff, great volunteer team,” he said. “We’ve been good working together.”

Now that his job has been officially posted, there’s no backing out of retirement and back into work for Burrows. But the executive director wouldn’t even call what he’s done for the last 40-plus years of his life work, he said.

He noted that everything he’s done, from the Navy to his current job, has been enjoyable.

“I didn’t learn to like this work,” he said. “I liked this work because it deals with people. I’ve never worked in my life. I’ve loved all my jobs.”

And as for the next person who takes his place, Burrows has some of his own requirements.

“We have to find the right person,” he said. “They have to be kind, caring and be able to conduct business. They have to be compassionate to people who are in a financial crisis. They have to have heart.”

Burrows has had all of those things, and then some, Mosley said.

“We have to clone Hoyt,” she joked. “He’s one of those special guys; a rare guy that you don’t really find nowadays.”

As for his upcoming retirement days, Burrows has plans. He wants to volunteer on the USS Turner Joy in Bremerton, along with the naval museum in Keyport. His background in naval submarines and interest in history are the driving factors in why he wants to spend time there. He’ll also travel with his wife, Sandra and spend time with family, he said.

Sandra, who has been his “right-hand woman” as she likes to say, thinks Hoyt will “take a week or two and fix things around the house.”

“And then he’ll be bored and he’ll go looking to volunteer somewhere,” she said.

They have plans to travel to Boston for a submarine reunion, and to Maine and other places on the East Coast where they were stationed in the Navy, to see friends. She hopes to get Hoyt to go to Ireland and “up to Alaska.”

“I can’t wait to have him all to myself,” she said. They’ve been married 54 years and were high school sweethearts. They have a daughter, Kelly, and a granddaughter, Alyssa, who live on the same cul de sac as they do in Brownsville.

In Hoyt’s 21-year career with the Navy, they were stationed in Maine, Charleston, South Carolina, Guam, Washington and Italy. When he retired from the Navy they were in Washington and decided to stay. Hoyt then went to work in the Bremerton Naval Shipyard and retired from there, only to start a career in the food bank business.

“This is his third time to retire and he’s really retiring now,” she added.

In some ways, it’s her retirement, too. She’s been a volunteer with the CK Food Bank ever since he took over as director.

“The new food bank has surpassed all of our dreams,” she said. “And I knew that until we got it, Hoyt would never retire. So it’s really a celebration of sorts. The staff, the volunteers and the clients all know that Hoyt now has gotten his dream. But they really know that his dream for a new food bank was never about him. It was always for them.”

So, at the end of the day, when 74-year-old Hoyt Burrows thinks about all that he’s accomplished during his years as executive director, he can’t pick just one thing that stands out.

He’s loved it all, he said.

“I think my overall experience, I don’t know if I could describe it in words,” said Burrows. “I’ve really loved working at this food bank.”