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Colfax school district says goodbye to retirees

By Marlys Kruger

COLFAX — Although there have been several retirements in the Colfax School District the past few years, many of these employees actually returned to their jobs, either on a part time or full time basis. Two long time staff members along with two bus drivers and a bookkeeper have actually made it official and will be done working in the district as of the end of this school year.

Tom Millar has taught agriculture education classes and has been the FFA advisor for 30 years in the district and worked for a few years before that in Ashland. In his many years of not only working with kids and members of the staff, he was also a big part of the community and the FFA Alumni, especially around fair time and the FFA Toy Show. When asked about the changes in his job from when he started, Millar said there were a lot of differences from the early ‘80s.

“The big difference is most of the kids in my classes lived on farms and had a working knowledge of agriculture,” he said. “Although many of them live in the country now, they live more on hobby farms and have animals for pets. The number of small dairy farms has gone down and there are less dairy animals at the fair now because of it. The large corporation farms don’t have kids around that get involved with showing animals. There is also less swine being shown, again because of  fewer pig farmers.”

“I have had a great time working with the kids in the classroom and at various activities in FFA,” Millar said. “People pick teaching as an occupation because they like to work with kids, and that is true for me. I also think it keeps you young. Things always get a little hectic around fair time but working with the alumni and other members of the community has been an enjoyable experience for me.

Millar plans on relaxing for a while but will look for some type of work to keep himself busy in the future.

“I am not just ‘going off into the sunset’,” he said. “I need to keep myself busy and I’m sure there is something I can find to do, either ag related or in another field,” he concluded.

Susan Olson is retiring as the Middle School-High School Library Media Specialist after 13 years with the district. Referred to as the librarian back in our day, the job certainly details more than checking out books now. Olson explained some of the differences she has seen throughout the years in her job.

“Today many students have never used a paper card catalog, because independent media such as radio, television, videos and CDs are all available along with computers,” she said. “Books can be read on a computer and many of us know what the evening news is before the news show even gets on TV. When I first started library school, I was taught how to use (and fix) an audio tape recorder and then create audio tapes. I also had to learn to take and develop black and white photos, how to change bulbs on an overhead projector and then create good quality transparencies to use on the projectors.  The opaque projector was quite the technology tool at the time. When I worked as an engineering librarian before coming to Colfax, computers took up the space of entire rooms whose temperatures were monitored heavily. But that was then and this is now.”

Olson intends to do some traveling in retirement and spend more time with her family which includes adult children and grandchildren in Kentucky, Nebraska and here in Wisconsin, and try to make a dent in her “Honey Do” list.

“I’d rather spend my time and energy doing these activities than learning (again) how to use newer library technologies,” Olson said. “Perhaps I am “settling” but God gives us only so much time on this earth and spending my time with family is my number one priority,” she concluded.

Dave Lausted was a bus driver for 23 years in the district. In those years he has gotten to know probably every back road in the school district, as he drove three different routes. He started with the northern route which goes pretty close to Sand Creek and after 10 years, took over the southeast route that covers areas toward Elk Mound. His last five years were spent on the Tainter Lake route.

“For the most part, it was a good job,” he said. “I had a lot of fun with the kids and most of the time they were pretty good.” He has no major plans for his retirement days.

Ralph Bradford will also hand over his bus to someone else next fall. After nine years driving the same northern route in the district, he plans on subbing if needed but will keep himself busy with other things.

“I had a lot of fun joking with the kids,” he said. “Since I am a Minnesota sports fan, I teased and was teased in return by Packer fans (and occasionally a Bears fan) either on the bus or in the bus garage. It was a good part time job for me.”

Flo Goulet actually retired in January as the Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent and Bookkeeper after 14 and a half years. She worked for three different superintendents along with three special education directors, three high school and three elementary principals in those years. Keeping up with all the Department of Public Instruction reports was one of her many jobs.

“The DPI is always coming up with new programs and new acronyms that always need to be reported on,” she said. “That is almost a job in itself to keep up on that. I remember when we converted our computer software program over to a whole different program in 2010. That was an interesting year, making sure we had all the changes updated. It was an interesting job because I was always learning something new and I am glad to have served the district all these years,” she added.

Goulet plans on spending her retirement days gardening, taking walks and camping.

“We have been traveling to different campgrounds around the area, sometimes with my kids and grandkids and sometimes just my husband and me,” she said. “We want to do more of that in the upcoming years.”

Best of luck to all the retirees!