Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Oct. 8, 2001

Buckentin retires as manager of Young America Mutual

By Patrice Waldron

Marlys Buckentin has been with the same company for nearly 36 years, but now it's time to retire.

Buckentin has served as manager of the Young America Mutual Insurance Company of Glencoe since 1985, when her husband Les retired and she was appointed to the position.

The association with the company dates back to 1966 when Les was asked to serve on the company's board of directors. He accepted the job of office manager in 1972, and she accepted the position of assistant manager.

Taking the job as manager meant that the office for Young America Mutual Insurance would be located in their rural Glencoe home. Marlys was already busy with raising four children, and having dairy cows to milk, but she accepted the assistant manager position.

Having the office located in her home was a big advantage to Marlys. Being at home when her children arrived home from school was very important to her.

"It is so important that children have the security and presence of having their mom there. That is what many children are missing today," Marlys said.

The job as assistant manager was only the beginning. The company has gone through many changes over the years, including moving the office to several locations as the company grew.

The office moved to its present location in 1986, when the company purchased the building, in part, to offer a main street location, making it easier for the policyholders.

As her children were growing and changing, so was the company. Since 1972, when the Buckentins took over the office management duties, Young America Mutual has grown in assets from $169,000 to more than $2 million today.

Along with a growth in assets, the area the company serves, and their number of agents have increased.

Originally, only the seven members of the board of directors, and the manager were agents. Now there are 50 agents working out of 23 offices located within a 50-mile radius.

Sibley, Carver, and McLeod counties were the only areas served in 1972, but now Meeker, Wright, Scott, and Le Sueur counties, and several townships in Renville and Nicollet are also in their service area.

Marlys has enjoyed working with people the most. Public relations, working with the policyholders, the statewide companies they package with, and with the office staff have been the areas of the job she has most enjoyed.

Along with her other duties in the office, and working with people, she has also enjoyed helping with the company's bi-annual publication called the Mutual Monitor. Part of her job as manager was to assist in editing the publication.

In the winter, 1999 edition of the Mutual Monitor, Buckentin wrote an in-depth article about the history of the company. Some of the information for the article had to translated from German to English.

The in-depth, informative article is a small sign of the dedication Buckentin has had for her job. She enjoys journalism, and would someday like to write a book.

"I don't know what I'd like to write about, but I'd like to write one," she said.

A positive outlook has been something which Buckentin has always tried to maintain.

"In all the years, I have never been angry at a client," she said.

The years of work are almost behind her, and Buckentin is ready to retire; to go on to the next part of her life.

Other office staff members include Diane Dittmer, office assistant, of Glencoe, who has worked with Buckentin for more than 15 years, and Vivian Meyer, bookkeeper, who has been there for more than 14 years.

The details of Buckentin's retirement have already been worked out. Connie Jaskowiak of Silver Lake will be the new office manager when Buckentin retires Monday, Oct. 15.

Jaskowiak has been going through orientation for a few weeks already, so when Buckentin's day to leave arrives, there should be a smooth transition.

It has been a difficult year for Marlys, whose husband Les, died last spring, but the loss has not dampened her spirit.

Everything that happens to a person shapes how they deal with the future, she commented.

The jobs she had with Young America Mutual Insurance kept her busy for many years.

The job was one she enjoyed, and worked well with raising her children too. There are things she passed along to her children that are now apparent in her grandchildren.

She's ready for retirement, and plans to enjoy the well-earned break. Plans for the future include travel and visiting her children. Her children live in Minnesota, Colorado, California, and Arizona.

She is planning to spend some time in Mesa, Ariz. and is looking forward to it. Working in some form of journalism is something she would like to explore.

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