Sale prompts retirement planning
This is the third in a four-part series about the properties on Jackson Avenue sold to USD 257 to build a new science and technology building at the Iola High School campus.
PITTSBURG — Sandy and Jamie Mosbrucker created a private oasis in the backyard at 420 E. Jackson Ave. Replete with flowers and wrought-iron furniture, it was a place to relax and recharge after a long workday.
Their new townhouse apartment at Pittsburg doesn’t have a yard. That’s fine with them, though. Soon, the entire world will be their backyard.
The Mosbruckers sold their home to USD 257, one of four properties that soon will be demolished for a new science and technology building at the Iola High School campus. The building is one of three projects voters approved in April; a new elementary school and new heating, ventilation and cooling systems at the middle school also were approved. Groundbreaking for the science building is expected in November.
Jamie is a recruiter with the Kansas National Guard; he’ll retire in June 2020 after 41 years of service. Sandy helps him keep track of his busy schedule.
“We were going to sell our house and travel when he retired so when this (offer to sell) came along it just pushed us to move a little sooner,” Sandy said in a phone interview. “It’s for a good cause, so we were good with that.”
Like the other property owners, the Mosbruckers support the school district’s plans. They believe the educational opportunities brought by the new science building will be a good use for the site.
Sandy, especially, appreciates the value of education. She worked for Haldex for 22 years until the company abandoned Iola in 2010. With a few college credits under her belt, she to use her new unemployment status as an opportunity to return to school, and attended Neosho County Community College to finish an associate degree in computer technology support.
“I enjoyed it,” she said of her return to college.
She worked two years at Community National Bank at Chanute before leaving to help her husband. His work as a military recruiter requires frequent travel to attend numerous events.
“Our schedule is ever-changing. It takes a lot of time,” she said.
That’s where their oasis of a backyard comes into play.
“It’s just perfect,” Sandy said. “We were middle-aged and we didn’t need a big backyard. The landscaping back there was just awesome.”
The backyard, though not large, was full of hardy, perennial plants and flowers such as hostas and irises. The yard required minimal maintenance, ideal for a busy couple. Mowing the front and backyards took less than 20 minutes, total.
The backyard featured a portable hot tub, patio swing and picnic table, shaded by a pergola. They often relaxed near the fire pit.
“It had everything we wanted,” Sandy said. “That’s where we spent most of our time.”
Sandy and Jamie each has three adult children and a total of nine grandchildren. Now that their family has grown and some live far away, visiting takes more time.
With retirement approaching, the couple is busy working on related details such as health insurance and social security. They don’t plan to buy another house. After he retires, they’ll become nomads of a sort, traveling the world.
A daughter lives in England. Perhaps they’ll move near her for six months or so. They also want to spend several months living in Germany. They’ve talked about spending time in Colorado Springs, Colo., which has multiple military posts.
They enjoy golfing and casinos, so places with those amenities are high on the list.
Sandy grew up in a military family, so she has traveled the United States to some degree. Jamie has traveled extensively during his military career, places like Germany, Costa Rica, Belize and more.
“I was able to go all over the world,” Jamie said. “Now’s my chance to show her where I’ve been.”
SANDY BOUGHT the house on Jackson Avenue in September 2009. At the time, she was single and still raising her son. She had grown tired of renting an apartment.
“It was a perfectly nice, quaint little house,” she said.
Her parents, Millie and Robert Scantlin, were from Iola, which drew her to the community.
Jamie moved from Georgia to Iola in 1991 for a job opportunity. The couple later met and married in 2012.
The house, built in 1920, is the smallest of the four properties sold to the school district.
For decades, it was owned by the Hoffmeier family. Iolan Gary Hoffmeier grew up in the house. With news of its impending demolition, Gary and other family members visited to say goodbye to his childhood home and shared memories of time spent there with his parents, Glen and Ada Hoffmeier. Gary pointed to the place where he’d buried a time capsule as a child (now covered by a concrete pad). His dad built a bar downstairs, he told Jamie. The Mosbruckers told him to take the bar with him.
Glen had coins placed into the wood of the bar’s top, Gary said. He wasn’t able to take the entire bar, but cut out the portion with the coins and made it into a plaque to hang in his garage.
He also took a piece of glass that said “Hoffmeier Meat Market,” which his father, a butcher, owned. Gary saw a meat cleaver still hanging over the kitchen sink, also a relic from his father’s shop, and took that, too, as well as the numbers on the front of the house that his father had made.
“Even the sound of the doorbell meant something to him, so he took that, too,” Jamie recalled.
“It was a great place to grow up,” Gary said.
His parents moved to the house when he was 7. He remembers being able to walk to the schools, but once he was older and owned a car, he and his brother had to move their cars to the school every morning because of a two-hour parking restriction on the street.
Last week, Gary took one last walk-through of the house.
“You could see the emotion on his face when he walked through the house,” Jamie said. “It meant a lot more to him. He grew up here. We were just tenants.”
The couple also allowed friends to dig up the perennials in the backyard, so the flowers will continue to bloom year after year in other backyards.
Though the Mosbruckers said they have fewer memories than the Hoffmeier family, they’ll especially miss the neighborhood Halloweens. The city cordoned off the street for ghosts and goblins to roam, and the neighbors tried to outdo each other with the spookiest decorations.
“It treated us well,” Jamie said of the house. “It was a very cozy home.”
Coming Saturday: The Foust family built their house in 1905 and were its only owners. A recent visit to the attic revealed numerous treasures.