Van De Keere retiring
BREMEN — Phyllis Van De Keere will retire July 31 from her position as the administrative assistant for the Bremen Chamber of Commerce after 19 years of service. She said the position was been one that has been very fulfilling.
“I really have enjoyed this a lot,” she said. “My co-workers, the town, and community have been very good to me. It’s been very rewarding to me.”
Her replacement will have a full-time responsibility that will require self-motivation as well as reliability. “This is a ‘feast or famine’ position,” Van De Keere explained. “One time you’ll be very busy and another day you’ll be looking for things to do. I owned my own business (Mother Goose nursery school) for 20 years so I am the self-motivated type. I did have to adjust from that to often having nobody to talk to during the day.”
Van De Keere was a 4-H Sewing leader for about 15 years and will also step down from being on the Chamber board and from the county election board. “For 20 years I was an election inspector for the Marshall County Election Board,” she explained. “The biggest part of being an administrate assistant to Rich (Martin, town director of operations) is working with the BZA (board of zoning appeals) and planning commission. You work very closely with the departments in the building and the clerk. I’ve also worked through two census, and that was a lot of work identifying every property in town.’”
For less daunting tasks Van De Keere said she has worked under the direction of three different councils for the Town of Bremen and that Dwaine Elliott, the first town Director of Operations she worked for, was the one that created the position years ago. She said her position involves working closely with the Chamber of Commerce but also being a kind of “informational director” to people coming or calling in with questions about the town, what’s going on, and its general workings. The 64-year-old said having a sense of humor won’t hurt who next fills her position either. “Oh someone’s always playing jokes,” Van De Keere said. “One time they were remodeling and I kept hearing this noise. It was coming from the tarp covering the ceiling and they kept telling me it was a ghost. The ‘spirit’ ended up being a bird they found dead in there when they took the tarp down.”
She said another mystery that had her humorously perplexed and which was later solved, was a memory she will always hold dear.
“It started when I came to work one day and there was Elvis, sitting on my desk,” Van De Keere said. “I asked around and of course nobody knew anything about it. Then another day I came in and it was gone. No one had any clue. Awhile later, when I got home, there was Elvis, in my flower bed.”
She said the two-foot-tall ceramic replica of “The King,” mysteriously came and went visiting her here and there and then just as anonymously disappearing at random times and locations for about six months.
“One day I got a slip from the post office that I had a package,” she said. “I went to pick it up and there was he was … Elvis.”
She said she wasn’t particularly a fan of the rock icon and that whoever had been behind the prank had simply used the statue for the silly, random item that it was, to surprise her with.
“Every year we have a town Christmas dinner,” she explained smiling. “They always have a raffle with things you try to win and there was this big box. I was so excited when I won it. I opened it up .. and of course, there was Elvis. They set me up to win it.”
The mystery was solved about a year later with the culprit being unveiled as town employee and good friend Tim Montague — who had a little help from time to time from fellow town employees.
“I’m really going to miss my co-workers,” she said of life after retirement, but added that she will definitely keep herself busy.
“I’ll have more time to work at my hobby,” Van De Keere said. “It’s not really a business name, but I’m referred to as ‘Pins and Needles’ because I’m a seamstress. I do alterations, specialty and formal wear, bridal wear. I’ve done a lot of letter jackets, and hemming. Lately I’ve been busy with prom and wedding gowns.”
Van De Keere said she also expected to be involved more with the Kiwanis, sewing neck pillows and other various duties, and spending more time with her family. She and her husband of 45 years, her high school sweetheart Paul, have two children Dawn Werk, St. Louis, Mo. and Scott Van De Keere of St. Mary’s, Ohio and five grandchildren.
“We’ll do some traveling,” Van De Keere said. “He wants to go somewhere sunny. I just want to spend more time with the family, maybe do some quilting.”
To reach her for seamstress services, contact Van De Keere by phone at 574-546-4696, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.