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The Downtown Mechanicsburg Partnership honored Linda Willis as their Person of the Year at the partnership’s annual tribute dinner on Oct. 25.

A 1967 graduate of Mechanicsburg Area High School, Willis started her career as a secretary at the Paul Sopensky Agency, later buying the business which became Mechanicsburg Insurance. After selling in 2004 to Gunn-Mowery, Willis has continued her work handling all types of insurance, and has been a strong advocate for downtown rehabilitation and small business.

Q: What was the greatest challenge you faced in running an insurance agency for so many years?

A: Being a female owned business in the early 1970’s, as well as being 25 years old at the time the business was purchased.

Q: How have the needs or circumstances of your clients changed over the years, and how has that re-shaped the insurance industry?

A: Technology has played a major role in the insurance business. Everything is moving at a much faster pace and there are more regulations and requirements. New insurance coverages such as cyber liability have emerged.

Q: How did you get involved with so many community organizations (Rebecca listed the theater, library, Scouts, and many others) and what has kept you committed?

A: I have always been a volunteer. My parents volunteered and they instilled the importance of volunteering in me. Many of the organizations I support are for causes that are important to me and some are also clients who need volunteers for activities. My son and daughter were both in scouting and achieved the highest ranks of Eagle Scout and Gold Award. Youth organizations are a priority. The children and youth are our future leaders and volunteers.

Q: What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in downtown Mechanicsburg over your career, and where do you see it going in the future?

A: Mechanicsburg is a lovely town with great businesses and wonderful people living in the community. Our history is a real draw to visitors and we have 6 historic buildings that are maintained by organizations supported through volunteer efforts.

Q: What changes or new efforts do you think could help improve downtown redevelopment efforts?

A: Downtown organizations are constantly working on beautification plans. The current focus to revitalize the town square would be a wonderful improvement. The programs that are available to downtown businesses to help them improve their properties through grants or low interest loans are definitely important.