Judy Krueger retires from Mt. Olive in Delano after 31 years of service
By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN For 31 years, Judy Krueger’s official title at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church and School in Delano was “secretary,” but to students, she was much more.
“My grandchildren would call me Grandma at school, so other kids would ask if they could call me Grandma, too,” Krueger said. “I would tell them, ‘you certainly can.’”
When Krueger retired in mid-January, the people at Mt. Olive weren’t about to let her go without a party.
“They told me to go down to the kitchen because the cook needed help with something,” Krueger recalled. When she got closer, however, Krueger was directed into the gym, where everyone was waiting for her with handmade cards and cake.
“That was so neat. I wasn’t expecting anything,” Krueger said. “I’ve got all the cards, and I read them all the time.”
Students took turns thanking Krueger, telling her how much she’d be missed.
“One of the kindergartners was explaining to his mom that they were having a party for the lady who is in charge of the school,” said Sheila Varner, who took over as secretary when Krueger retired.
It took the boy’s mother awhile to figure out who he was talking about, but to the children, it was obvious.
“In their eyes, Judy was in charge of the school,” Varner said.
Krueger’s contribution to Mt. Olive began long before today’s students were born. She had just graduated from what is now Martin Luther College (MLC) in New Ulm, and accepted an elementary teaching position at Mt. Olive.
“I always wanted to be a teacher ever since second grade, when I saw that the teacher was the one with the answer book,” Krueger laughed.
After three years, Krueger took a break from teaching to get married and raise a family, still staying involved at Mt. Olive through volunteer work.
Then, when the youngest of Krueger’s four children was in seventh grade, the church and school had an opening for a secretary.
“No one was saying they wanted to do it,” Krueger recalled. “I hadn’t done that type of work before, but I thought it’d be fun.”
Once Krueger was hired, she never looked back.
“It wasn’t work I loved it,” she said.
Whether it was answering phone calls, keeping records, or assisting the pastor and principal, Krueger sought to fill the needs of Mt. Olive to the best of her ability.
“Mainly, it was just being there,” she said. “Sometimes, people needed to just talk. I was there to listen.”
Interacting with students was another highlight.
“Kids would scrape their knee and I’d give them a bandage. They’d want to know if I was a nurse, and I’d say, ‘no, I’m a mother,’” Krueger said. “They’d be smiling by the time they left.”
In her three decades at Mt. Olive, Krueger got to know hundreds of children.
“I loved every single one of them,” she said, adding that some of the former students now have their own children at Mt. Olive.
When Krueger was secretary, Barb Scherer and Lorraine Borchardt took care of all the bookkeeping at the church and school.
“These two gals did all the work as volunteers,” Krueger said.
Scherer and Borchardt retired recently, so the position of secretary was increased from three days per week to five, to accommodate the extra bookkeeping duties.
Krueger took that as her cue to retire, but said she plans to stay active at Mt. Olive through volunteer work.
Mt. Olive Lutheran School offers classes for preschool through eighth grade. To learn more, call (763) 972-2442, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to http://www.mtolivedelano.org/
Say ‘hello’ to Sheila Varner
Sheila Varner is the new secretary at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church and School, with office hours of Monday through Friday, 7:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. during the school year.
“It’s fabulous; it’s a lot of fun,” Varner said. “My three kids go to school here, and it seemed like a good fit.”
Varner and her husband, Jon, have been members of Mt. Olive Lutheran Church for about 10 years. Before that, they attended St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Montrose, which is also part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS).
At Mt. Olive, Varner is looking forward to incorporating new technology into the office and keeping everything organized.
“It’s definitely a passion of mine to come in and help,” she said.
Varner can be reached at (763) 972-2442.