Laura Maxwell has retired after 45 years of serving Fort La Bosse School Division in a key role. In June, two months ago, she said goodbye to the office and began retirement with what really just felt like a summer holiday.
However, as September hit, so did reality. Daily work at that office where she had made so many friends and grown used to the sense of accomplishment was actually over. “It’s been a long time and many people have come and gone,” says Maxwell wistfully.
It was within the last 10 years that her secretarial role was titled Executive Assistant to the Superintendent.
At a celebration for FLB employees in the spring of 2015, Maxwell was honoured for 40 years of quiet competence.
Fort La Bosse Superintendent, Barry Pitz, says Maxwell was “a key person, to assist, in terms of communications with the schools and with government.”
Maxwell recalls her case of nerves at the interview to hire her. She was nearly 20. Harry Chornoboy was the superintendent and Fred Cole the assistant superintendent.
“I was very nervous and surprised when I got the job.” Nora Gray was her vocational teacher for a one-year business course she studied at VCI following graduation in Elkhorn. Maxwell says, “I’m pretty sure she put in a good word for me and that may have sealed the deal.
“Mr. Fed Cole phoned to tell me I had the job and I wasn’t very professional. I said to him, ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’” she laughs.
“I had a month’s training with the secretary who had been there. Myrna Rouse. And then I was on my own.”
Maxwell was hired as receptionist and secretary. She never needed the shorthand that she learned, just how to read her boss’s hand writing in order to type up the press releases and communiques.
Those were the days when electric typewriters were a luxury.
At one point Maxwell considered looking for a new job.
“Maybe 20 years in, I remember thinking I needed a new challenge. Then, along came the computer and that was a game changer.”
Reams of information needed to be entered into the computer system. “I had all I could want and more of challenges.”
She recalls probably the biggest crisis she faced there was related to the computer system.
“In the year 2000 we lost all our data. We thought we had back-up, but we didn’t. That was a scary time. We had to start over.”
While she enjoyed her daily work, it was the people who meant the most to Laura Maxwell. “They became my friends. All the superintendents we had over the years, I had really good working relationships with everyone.”
She knew all the principals and most who worked within the FLB system. “It seemed back in the day, we knew the bus drivers, we knew the custodians, we knew everyone.”
As time went on, Maxwell’s role grew and she assumed more responsibility for the division office communications.
So what gets her up in the morning now? She laughs, “That is the 64-dollar question. They say there’s life after Fort La Bosse. I’ll find out.”
At 65 she’s a grandmother of two and is looking forward to more time with her family, including with her mother in Elkhorn. COVID-19 has put a damper on some things like travel plans and some of the volunteer work that she used to do with her community group, the Pacific Willing Workers.
Maxwell, despite working since the age of 20 in the school division office, calls herself a home body, and that’s something she’s going to revel in when the thermometer drops and she doesn’t have to punch a clock. In fact, she said wryly, “One thing I’m looking forward to is the first snow storm.” She’ll be watching from the comfort of home.