Spotlight on Los Alamos: Greeting visitors from around the world

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By Carol A. Clark

Cindy Whiting’s welcoming smile greets local guests and those from across the globe who stop by the Visitor’s Center inside the Chamber of Commerce at 15th and Central Avenue. For seven years, Whiting has shared points of interest and promoted the community through her job as receptionist for the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation.

“On a typical spring day I can talk with 40 people,” she said. “I especially enjoy talking with Europeans because of my ancestry and interest in foreign languages.”

She speaks some French, and spoke of being a descendant of Prussia, which as a state, was abolished de facto by the Nazis in 1934 and de jure by the Allies of World War II in 1947. Prussia is now part of Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Denmark, Belgium and the Czech Republic.

Born in Chicago, Whiting first moved to Los Alamos with a friend in 1992. She liked it here a lot, she said, and decided to stay.

Whiting recalled watching the horrific events of 9/11 unfold a few weeks after starting her job in the Visitor’s Center in June 2001.

“A group of Realtors came in for a meeting that Tuesday morning and had the television on,” she said. “I was watching it and it was just unreal,” Whiting said.

The most challenging aspect of Whiting’s job, she said, is to keep her focus amid peak activity times at the information center. Being stationed in the middle of the large room where public and staff enter, exit and gather at times can be distracting,

Whiting comes from solid stock.

“The women in my family are long-living,” she said.

Whiting’s 89-year-old mother lives in Chicago. She retired just five years ago from nursing. Her grandmother was a cook and baker whose specialty was making “fancy coffee cakes.” She didn’t retire until she was 94-years-old.

“I have a pretty dynamic family,” she said.

Now deceased, Whiting’s father worked as a salesman. She recalled fondly hearing of his cocky demeanor when he was a drum major in high school. Her brother lives in New Orleans and works as a salesman like his father did. Whiting’s sister is a special education teacher in Rapid City, S.D.

Whiting enjoys listening to music, especially rock ’n’roll, and singing.