By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — After 37 years, Donna Johnson is retiring from her position at Bremer Bank on December 31.
Well, actually, Johnson’s retirement date will be 17 days short of 37 years.
Her first day at Bremer Bank was January 17, 1977.
At that time, the bank was located in downtown Colfax in the building that now houses Arvold Chiropractic.
When Johnson first started at the bank, “we did everything by hand. You calculated interest. You hand-posted payments. There were no computers. You had adding machines,” she said.
In the early 1980s, Bremer Bank moved out to the existing location on Bremer Avenue with 32 employees.
Bremer Bank in Colfax now has six full-time employees.
“Times have changed. Social Security is direct deposit. People use ATM machines. People are doing on-line banking to pay their bills. It has really changed,” Johnson said.
“We used to have the (micro) fiche and the hard copies and a fiche reader (for account records). Then we got computers,” she said.
Johnson recalls the 1980s when interest rates were high, and it was tough for farmers to survive.
“On the way out to my folks’ place, there used to be seven or eight dairy farmers. Now there’s not a one on M south of Colfax,” she said.
Johnson’s husband, Al, has worked at Woods Run in Colfax for nearly 30 years. He has been in a wheelchair for 31 years.
“Bremer was very good to me and worked with me through many challenging times. The community came together, and Bremer let me work when I could. I kept my job, and we had our insurance,” she said.
As for her retirement plans, Johnson says she anticipates being busy.
“I have lots to do, so I don’t think I will bored. I’ll have time to spend with grandkids. But I have no big plans,” she said.
Donna and Al Johnson have three children. Vicki lives in Osseo. Teresa lives in Chippewa Falls. And Chad lives in Colfax. They also have seven grandchildren, ranging in age from 25 to 13.
“Colfax has been good to us. I’ve been here all my life. I’m going to miss my customers and the people I work with. That’s going to be the hardest. We’re a small family here,” she said.
“I love taking care of the yard and planting flowers. I love being outdoors. I was raised on a farm. I love the sun. I’m a country girl. I would love to go back to that. My folks might need an extra hand here and there. I will be available to help them, and I’m thankful for that. I’ve never had that time before,” Johnson said.
“We all take turns helping our folks. Now it’s my turn for a little bit,” she said.
Johnson also has been serving on the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center’s Board of Directors for a little over a year.
“There’s a lot to it. It’s interesting. It’s a learning experience. There’s more to it than you might think. It’s going to keep me busy, too,” she said.
Since Johnson’s last official day on the job is December 31, coffee and cake will be served at Bremer Bank in her honor all day on December 30.
“I want my customers to know that I’m not going to be here and that I’m thankful for all of their support over the years,” Johnson said.