What’s retirement?

Donna Bauer is moving on to volunteer at the hospital auxiliary after 65 years working in health care. She retired from Iola Respiratory & Home Medical, where she has worked for 20 years. Before that, she worked for the hospital.

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Local News

March 1, 2024 - 2:56 PM

Donna Bauer, center, celebrates her retirement at a reception on Friday with Diana Jensen, left, a member of her church, and Patty Eisenbart, who worked with Bauer for many years at Allen County Regional Hospital. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

When Donna Bauer looks back over her career, she remembers most fondly the people who have helped her along the way.

They were mentors and bosses. Co-workers and customers. Family and friends. 

Bauer, age 83, is a “people person” who immediately puts visitors at ease with her warmth and easy conversation. 

She enjoys working with people so much, it took her 65 years to decide to retire. She worked 45 years for Allen County Regional Hospital and another 20 for Iola Pharmacy’s medical equipment office. 

So what’s her idea of retirement? She’s joined the hospital’s auxiliary group, where she will greet and guide patients as a volunteer.

On Friday afternoon, many of those she’s known over the years came to a retirement reception to wish her well as she transitions to this new endeavor. 

BAUER grew up in Elsmore and describes herself as being shy until she was 13, when her older brother found her a weekend job as a waitress. 

“He said, ‘I think that would be good for you.’ I hated to tell him that it really was,” she recalled.

That was her first experience working with the public. 

Her mother was very outgoing and encouraged community service through activities like 4-H and playing the piano and organ at church. 

“I’ve always liked to help people,” she said. “My mother told me to speak the truth and say what you think. So I’ve always done that.”

Bauer was just 17 in 1959 when she started working at the switchboard for Allen County Hospital, back when the hospital was located at what’s now the site of G&W Foods. 

That’s when she met Leona Masterson, who worked at the hospital and whose son John would serve as president of Allen Community College for decades. 

“She really impressed me and taught me to really care for the public. She made me want to make a difference when it came to helping people,” Bauer said. 

Donna Bauer has worked for Iola Respiratory & Home Medical, a division of Iola Pharmacy, since 2004. She is retiring after the medical equipment business was sold to Care 4 All Home Medical Equipment in January.Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

Later, Bauer moved to patient accounts, payroll and accounts payable before becoming assistant director of financial services.

“Two of my bosses are still here in Iola, which is kind of neat. In fact, one of them was in here yesterday,” she said. “I learned a lot and they taught me well.”

She recalled a particular “learning moment” that came while working for Larry Peterson, the hospital’s former financial director. 

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