DHI Media Correspondent
GROVER HILL — For 34 years, Kathie (Olwin) Kipfer answered the phone each day by saying, “Wayne Trace Schools.” It was in the 1980-81 school year that Kipfer first spoke the words that she was going say thousands of times until this past spring, when she felt that it was the “right time” to retire. But the idea of Kipfer sitting in a secretary’s desk was created long before that first phone call.
“When I was a little girl I would pretend that I was school secretary or English teacher,” said Kipfer. “When I was in high school Joanne Phipps was the secretary and I was an aide to her. I loved it.”
Following high school, she also kept her commitment to a five-year dating relationship with her husband-to-be, Terry Kipfer, her high school sweetheart. They were married at the Catholic Church in Payne on June 26, 1970 and eventually had two boys and a daughter.
When Kipfer started her secretarial career, it was just Wayne Trace High School at the building initially. In the 1980’s, the junior high portion of the student body joined the others. Kipfer actually began her employment with the school system by subbing as a secretary and working in the cafeteria. At first, there was a need for someone to fill in for the high school secretary. Then the position opened up completely and Kipfer got the nod.
“When I started, the building was a lot smaller,” said Kipfer. “It was the original Grover Hill building. They added a new gym and cafeteria in 1988. Then there was a major renovation several years ago.”
Kipfer chuckled when she was asked to describe the main points of her job description.
“Well, I answered the phone, fielded phone calls, gave out information, was in charge of activity funds and the FFA fund. I kept track of book work for funds for advisors, took attendance and was in charge of student fees,” said Kipfer. “I deposited money and paid bills for the activity funds.”
Kipfer said that she also kept track of copiers and school office computers, kept track of athletic tickets and wrote various receipts. “Every day was different,” said Kipfer. “Whatever came up that needed to be done, you did it. I cooked and baked for staff during parent-teacher conferences. On the second day, I gave them (teachers) a big buffet. I also cooked for Christmas. I’m going to miss that. I really enjoyed cooking and baking.”
One of the most enjoyable times, said Kipfer, was when there were athletic teams that went to state. She noted that people would be at the school at 6 a.m. to purchase tickets and would sometime start lining up outside the school at 3:30 p.m. for 6:30 p.m. games. “The largest share of people were so patient and didn’t get upset,” said Kipfer. “People would come and sit around and talk until it was their turn to buy tickets.”
Kipfer admitted that retirement was difficult, mainly because of the family-like camaraderie with staff and teachers. She noted that things didn’t really hit her until she handed in her retirement letter.
“The school was a second family to me. I spent time with staff, teachers and their families. We’ve got some of the best teachers. They just love the kids. There is such a family atmosphere. The staff is so interactive with the kids. I love running into former students. I run into them in some of the oddest places.”
Kipfer said that one of her purposes in retiring was to spend more time with her family and to travel with her husband. “It was time,” said Kipfer. “I want to be able to do things with my husband while our health is good.
“I want to help with my mom. Anything to do with her fell on my older brother’s (Gene Olwin) shoulders. I have more time to help with that now. I like to read; of course, I love to cook and bake,” said Kipfer. “And I’m looking forward to seeing former students and staff. We will always be one big family.”