After 23 years on Paseo Grande, Administrator has announced she will retire from the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association at the end of the summer.
Van Huffel's announcement comes as she is on leave, recuperating from a second knee surgery, and on the heels of the association's protracted and contentious recall election.
Contemporaries said the surgery had pushed Van Huffel toward the retirement she'd talked about for years, but that the tumult of the past several months—including the recall—had helped nudge her over the edge.
"I think this last year has taken a toll on a lot of people," said former board member . "I personally will miss her unbelievably. She’s one of the hardest-working people I know."
In her official letter to the board, Van Huffel expressed pride at the association's progress under her two decades of guidance.
"The San Lorenzo Village is a warm and wonderful community and I am proud that I have been able to make a positive contribution to the Association and community during my tenure," Van Huffel wrote. She declined to comment further until she returns from leave.
Board members and others inside the association have known since early April that Van Huffel was preparing to step down.
Many in the Village have said publicly it was hardly soon enough. Years ago, a group made up of many of the same community members who spearheaded the recall of former Director Brenda Carr began an unsuccessful campaign to unseat Van Huffel as administrator, claiming she'd amassed too much power in the position.
Many more struggle to imagine the body going on without its erstwhile head.
Some, like current Homes Association President Kathy Martins, feel both ways at once.
"People have been calling for change for a long time," Martins said. "I think this is a great opportunity for the association to really find someone who is open to new ideas and has a fresh perspective."
Still, she said Van Huffel's absence will create "a huge, gaping hole to fill."
For her part, Van Huffel appears to have taken sentiment about her in stride.
"I have always considered the San Lorenzo community as my family," she wrote. "As in every family environment, we have had our ups and downs. Even so, I have come to appreciate our community members and have made many friends along the way."
Two decades of experience and advocacy will be impossible to replace in a matter of months, Martins said. She expressed optimism that the board could begin reviewing resumes soon and hire a qualified candidate who could shadow Van Huffel before she leaves her position at the end of September.
"She put her heart and soul into this community," Ready said. "I don’t think many people in San Lorenzo realize what they will be losing."