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Goodbye, Ruth: Customer service representative at Farmers Insurance office in Detroit Lakes will retire June 23

When Ruth Aho was asked to help answer phones at Farmers Insurance Agency in Detroit Lakes while owner Richard Pentinen's wife Renee was out on maternity leave, it was supposed to be a temporary position.

That was 34 years ago -- yet somehow, Aho never quite managed to leave.

"I just stayed on," she said, adding that the Pentinens were friends of both her and her husband before she went to work there, and they remained friends until the present day (though Renee Pentinen has since passed on).

For 26 years, Aho worked part-time as a customer service representative at Pentinen's Farmers Insurance office at 1145 Washington Ave., near where the M & H Convenience Store is located.

When Pentinen retired eight years ago, Aho stayed and went to work for the new Farmers Insurance agent, David Hiney.

She was still there when a second agent, James Matter, joined the agency four years ago. Over the years, the insurance office changed locations three times, before settling into its present location at 803 Roosevelt -- yet Aho's presence has remained a constant.

Until now, that is. On Thursday, June 23, Ruth plans to follow her husband Jim Aho into retirement.

"I have six more days," she said Tuesday morning. (Aho works every Tuesday through Thursday.)

Though she's ready to retire, Aho admitted that she thought long and hard before telling her bosses that she would be leaving.

"This is an ideal job," she said. "I have every Friday through Monday off. And I've enjoyed working for my two bosses -- they're the best.

"They've given me time off whenever I need or want it -- I couldn't have asked for better bosses, or a better job.

"It wasn't an easy decision (to retire)," she added.

Nevertheless, she doesn't think she'll be bored.

"I'm turning 65 at the end of this month," she said. "My husband is already retired (from the bridge construction business), for three years now.

"I thought I'd like to join him, maybe do some traveling.

"We like cruises, and we might like to do some traveling with his family," she said.

Though they don't have children -- "that's something we weren't blessed with," she said -- Ruth's husband does have several relatives in the Toad Lake area, where they have lived since their marriage in 1970. She also has a brother in Fargo, as well as one in Phoenix.

Besides traveling, Ruth said, she also likes to read, and she and her husband enjoy gardening as well. (While Jim also enjoys hunting and fishing, that's one interest she doesn't share with him, Ruth admitted.)

A native of Arthur, N.D., Ruth -- whose maiden name is Boettcher -- moved to Detroit Lakes with her family in 1960. After graduating from Detroit Lakes High School, she went to business college in Fargo, then started working for Branick Manufacturing, where she stayed for about a year before moving to Minneapolis.

"I worked for First Computer Corporation (in Minneapolis) for about four years -- then I got married," she said.

Ruth said she first met her husband Jim while they were both enjoying the summer scene in Detroit Lakes.

"He was in the Army," she said. As soon as he was discharged, they were wed. Four decades later, they're still together, and will celebrate their 41st anniversary this month.

Though she has never really experienced life as a retiree, Ruth said, she doesn't expect to be bored.

"I like to be at home," she said.

To celebrate Ruth's retirement, her bosses David Hiney and James Matter will be hosting an open house on her last day, June 23, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Those who would like to wish Ruth well in her retirement are invited to drop by the office (located on the second floor of the 803 Roosevelt building) and say hello.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454