Mitzi Hesser retires from the Kiowa County Health Department after 36 years of service.
The Kiowa County Health Department is hosting a come-and-go retirement celebration to honor Mitzi Hesser’s 36 years of faithful public service 3-5:30 p.m., Friday, January 18.
For generations Hesser has been caring for the people of Kiowa County, faithfully serving with a humble sense of commitment matched by few.
“I maintain that I am not losing her,” said Kerri Ulrich, Administrator of the Kiowa County Health Department. “I keep telling people she will be right down the street and just a phone call away. So we aren’t losing her, she won’t come to work here anymore every day.”
Hesser said she and husband, Rob, plan to take take some time to sit back and relax.
“I am a small town girl and Kiowa County is our home,” Hesser said. “We aren’t going anywhere.”
The Hessers came to Kiowa County in 1976 after serving in the Peace Corps. Mitzi and Rob, orginally from Nebraska, came to Greensburg for a job Rob was offered in the agricultural business at Service Tech.
Hesser worked a couple of jobs in the area when the Kiowa County Health Department started a home health division in 1983. She started there as a nurse and took over as administrator in 1988, following Ellen Peters. Because the Kiowa County Health Department didn’t start till 1967, Hesser is only the third administrator in its history.
“I had no idea when I started working here I would stay this long,” Hesser said. “But God could not have handed me any nicer gift than to be in public health in Kiowa County.”
Even in 2007, when the tornado hit Greensburg, Hesser said it was an awesome experience of being able to help the community and bring it back to what it is today.
When interviewed last year on the celebration of her 35th year with the health department, Hesser said her biggest highlight of working over the years was seeing people find strength in themselves. She said that was most evident during the tornado recovery in 2007.
“I got up on May 8, 2007 knowing I was going to have to step up and make sure the healthcare of Kiowa County was okay,” she said.
Hesser worked 12-15 hours a day with FEMA. One of her fondest memories from that time was when nurses from all over the area came to help. They filled grocery baskets full of supplies and just walked down the streets meeting people’s needs.
During the tough times and the monotonous ones, Hesser said it had been her privileged to serve the county all these years.
“It is the best job anyone could have,” she said.
Hesser’s last day in the office is January 18 and her successor, Nicole Zadina, will start the following Monday. The health department staff invites everyone to stop in and give their well wishes to Hesser, although it isn’t a goodbye to the community. It is just a “See ya later down the street.”