Marlis Kapfenstein: Retiring After 31½ Years of Dedicated Service
Curt Merchant, Val Warner Clausen, Marlis Kapfenstein, and Rhett Coatney.
(PA photo/Andrew Williamson)
By LYNNETTE FORTH | For The Prairie Axdvocate News
LANARK, IL – The Country Financial office of Rhett Coatney in Lanark will be undergoing a change with the forthcoming retirement of Marlis Kapfenstein. After 31 ½ years of dedicated service, Kapfenstein will be retiring from her duties as Service Assistant. It seems as though everyone in the community knows and enjoys Marlis, which is evident by the number of patrons that stop and wave to her as they pass through downtown Lanark.
Starting in the office on June 1st of 1981 under the direction of a new agent, Val (Warner) Clausen, Marlis reflected on the early days. “Oh my gosh, everything was done by hand. Now it’s all electronically prepared. All applications were submitted in writing by hand.
“When we first got computers, it was a process of ‘bump and stumble,’” Marlis said. “It took awhile to get used to the new things. We started out with a small machine to do life insurance policies.”
During her many years at the Country office, Kapfenstein has worked for three different agents. “All three bosses have been fantastic. Each different, but all great.”
Val Clausen speaks very highly of Marlis, stating “She was a big asset, she knew people in the community. She was always friendly, and funny. She enjoys the people so much. Marlis was always a delight to work with and have in the office.
“She and I became good friends and had a good time together in the office. We went through thick and thin. Even after retiring from the business, and having previously been in Texas for fifteen years, the two of us still see each other and enjoy catching up,” Clausen stated.
Another new face came to the office just after Kapfenstein began, that being Curt Merchant, who worked from 1982-2005.
“Marlis was always extremely accommodating, and always got the job done correctly,” Merchant said. “She made a lot of friends over the years. If you want an employee, that’s the kind you want. Most of the people who came through the door regarded her as the agent! She always greeted customers with a smile, and left them with a laugh.
“I wish her nothing but absolutely the best. I hope she can complete the things she wants to accomplish in her retirement. She deserves it. Even during her battle with cancer, she got the job done. She’s one tough lady.”
Since 2005, Marlis has been working for Rhett Coatney, and loved every day on the job. “Everyday was different. I couldn’t complain about anything, but it’s time . . . Everything has been wonderful,” Kapfenstein reflected.
When asked about her upcoming retirement, Marlis said “I have a bucket list, and I am going to follow it a little bit. I plan to sleep in and just take it easy.”
A retirement open house is being planned to honor Marlis on Thursday, December 13th at the Heritage Center in Lanark.
Following is a letter from Marlis:
Thank You, Friends . . .
Dear Clients and Friends,
I write this letter with mixed emotions. I am retiring from COUNTRY Financial at the end of this year after 31½ years of service. I am looking forward to spending more time with my family and friends, staying up late at night, sleeping late (?) into the morning and putting BIG check marks next to my increasingly growing “bucket list.” However, I will truly miss all of you.
Over the years, I have come to recognize most of your voices on the phone before you get a chance to identify yourself. I have enjoyed seeing those of you who still stop in the office to pay your premium to “save a stamp.” Then there are those of you who just stopped in to say “hello” on your daily routine. You all made my years at COUNTRY so special.
It is hard for me to believe that 31½ years ago on June 1, 1981, Val (Warner) Clausen hired me as her assistant. The two of us welcomed Curt Merchant into our office that October. Val moved to Texas a couple of years later and I worked with Curt Merchant until he retired in 2005. In 2005, Rhett Coatney joined COUNTRY and he and I have worked together the past 7 years.
As I begin my transition into retirement, I would like to THANK YOU for your friendship, humor and understanding.