WHEELING, W.Va (WTRF) – The Welty Home here in Wheeling is saying goodbye to a long-time employee and friend at the beginning of next year.

7News Reporter Annalise Murphy visited with the home Monday and spoke with the woman who makes a big difference in the lives of her employees and residents.

Tess Gaudino has been an employee at Welty for the last 20 years and her bright smile and welcoming personality are among the many wonderful comments her co-workers made on her behalf.

Gaudino continually said that at Welty, her employees and residents are family, and they are who she is going to miss the most when she retires in January 2024.

Caring for seniors come very easy to Gaudino because as she grew up in Wheeling, she lived right next to her grandparents. She helped care for her grandfather, who suffered from emphysema.

She started out at Welty as an administrative assistant and spent countless hours making the residents feel at home earning her several promotions over the years.

Ten years ago, she earned the title of manager, and since then has overseen hundreds of residents and guided dozens of employees.

“One of my favorite memories is talking with the residents and, you know, families telling you that you’re doing a good job, and you have a great staff. Residents coming to talk with me, you know, for personal reasons or things that are bothering them. And I can help them with those things.”

Tess Gaudino | Manager, Welty Home – Retiring in January 2024

“We’ve been through a lot of life together, work and personal life together. She’s been great to work for, work with. She’s been a great teacher in a lot of ways for me, so I hope to make her proud as well.”

Michelle Ruckman | Named New Manger of Welty Home

Gaudino says she doesn’t have any retirement plans yet, but she is excited to spend more time with her four grandchildren and in the community as a member of the Wheeling Lions Club.

Michelle Ruckman will officially take over as manager on Jan. 1, 2024, but Gaudino will stay until Jan. 18 to ensure a smooth transition.

Ruckman has been at Welty for 18 years and started out in personal care, then went to the activity department. She was promoted to director and earned a Certified Activity Director credential.

Ruckman says she plans to “keep an open-door policy like Tess” and lead the staff with thoughtfulness.

Recently, Wheeling Newspapers Readers’ Choice Awards rated Welty as the top retirement home, an honor that both Gaudino and Ruckman are very proud to announce.

From everyone here at WTRF, we wish you all the best in your retirement Tess!