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Part-time typing job leads to 17-year career for area woman

December 13, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - When Roberta Yetter's three children were youngsters, she enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom and participating in their club and school activities. When they got older, she started doing a little typing for the Washington County office of the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension.

Little did she know then that she would one day parlay her experiences as a 4-H leader and that typing assignment into a full-time position as an administrative assistant at the agency.

Yetter, 62, retired recently after 17 years and five months at her job.

"In my 4-H work, I always typed my reports just because I just liked to type," Yetter said.

She was approached to help out with other typing assignments on an as-needed basis when the agency's office was on Summit Avenue in Hagerstown.

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Soon after, Yetter was offered a job as a part-time employee.

"I needed to do this for me," she said. "And I could choose my own days and hours."

When the agency moved to a Maryland Avenue office complex, the job grew to full time and remained that way until she retired from the current office at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center off Sharpsburg Pike.

The job description used to be secretary to the agriculture agents. Later, that changed to administrative assistant to the agriculture educators.

Over the years, Yetter worked closely with Don Schwartz, who kept the title of agriculture agent rather than changing to educator, Yetter said.

She also worked with Jeff Semler, 4-H and adult agriculture educator; and Mary Ellen Waltemire, who was extension director until she assumed regional duties. Lynn Little is now extension director, Yetter said.

"There were three administrative assistants in our office," she said. They all dealt with people on the phone and people who came into the office, as well as putting out quarterly newsletters, brochures, fliers and letters.

Yetter said she took the job because the people she worked with made her feel welcome and treated the public so well.

"Our office didn't believe in voice mail - the personal touch is much better," she said.

Yetter said she knows from her own experience trying to get through on the telephone with other agencies that it can be frustrating to always get a machine instead of a real person.

"The first opinion one gets of an office comes from the first person you encounter," she said. "That sets the tone and we knew that."

A Boonsboro native, Yetter attended middle and high school in Clear Spring.

She met her future husband, Gene, when they were in seventh grade, she said. They dated in high school and were married at age 19. The couple's 43rd wedding anniversary is in February.

The Yetters have three children, Michael, Mark and Kathy Albaugh.

With Gene already retired from Mack Trucks, the Yetters are now planning to do more traveling with a bus tour group with whom they already have gone to the Rockies, Canada and Nova Scotia.

"I also want to catch up on my reading and get my home organized," she said.

As she did for her own three children, Yetter now plans to show up at her granddaughter's school activities.

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