WOSTER: Thankful for Nancy's retirementIt’s someone else’s turn now. She has earned a break.
By: Terry Woster, The Daily Republic
If you’re reading this, it’s Wednesday morning and the world didn’t come to an end last night.
You probably weren’t even considering that possibility, perhaps waiting until the December date when the Mayans (or at least a movie about their calendar) said the world would end. Me, I was a little jittery all Tuesday evening. It was well into the night before I stopped tossing and drifted off to sleep. (Really? No, not really. I’m writing this late on Tuesday. Newspapers have deadlines and, like so many folks in the dark ages before cell phones, I have an imagination.)
What happened Tuesday that I thought might cause the world to stop was this: At some point late in the afternoon, Nancy Woster walked out the door of the community health office here in Pierre for the last time. After 28 years with the state Health Department, she retired. If the world didn’t stop because of that, it should at least have done one of those chillsdown-your-spine shivers on its axis before continuing to turn.
It isn’t just her time with state government that makes the retirement significant. This woman has been working for a living since she was in junior high school back in Chamberlain. She was just a slip of a girl when Ed Sorenson hired her to work the popcorn stand in the front lobby of the State Theater on Main Street. The concession stand was located to the south side of the ticket booth, with one set of doors that allowed patrons in the theater to access the snack bar and another set across the concession area that opened in from the sidewalk, so passers-by could purchase a snack even if they didn’t care to see the movie.
She sometimes wore a sleeveless summer dress with wide horizontal stripes of various colors, a Southwest design that set off an incredible tan. Seriously, I can still see her in that dress, scooping popcorn into those red-and-white bags with clown faces on the front. She looked like Natalie Wood in “Rebel Without a Cause.” I consider it my good fortune that a talent scout from Hollywood didn’t happen by.
She worked as a car-hop at the old A&W drive-in a couple of summers. Sometime in high school, she found a job as a nurse’s aide at the Chamberlain hospital and a career was born. She worked hospital jobs in St. Paul to help pay her way through college, sometimes riding a bus late in the night back to campus where she roomed with another nursing student.
Out of college, she married me. She had a job before I did, working medical-floor shifts at the Brookings hospital and quickly finding a spot at McKennan Hospital when we moved to Sioux Falls. She was such a dedicated worker that she had our first child on her day off. She returned to work rather quickly, moving to a night shift so one of us could be home with our new daughter.
She loved her nursing dearly, but she loved her child more, and we made a really smart family decision (not so great financially, but you can’t have it all) that she would quit work for a while and be at home. She returned to work here in Pierre at the hospital when the kids were old enough to be in school, but she always — or nearly always — managed to juggle her schedule around when they needed her or when they wanted her to see their play or concert or match or game. I missed many activities with my jobs. She missed very few.
She left the hospital for state work in part to avoid weekend shifts and have that time with the family. In my unbiased judgment, she’s been a marvelous state worker — dedicated, skilled and caring. She’s probably given flu shots to half the people in the greater Pierre-Fort Pierre area over the years. I always tell people she is absolutely painless, and I haven’t had anyone yet call me a liar.
It’s someone else’s turn now. She has earned a break.
And, yes, for sure. This is a Thanksgiving column.