After more than 36 years, a local U.S. Department of Agriculture employee will be retiring to pursue other passions.
Linda Mathews has worked for the USDA office in Waterloo since she graduated from high school.
She started out as a program technician, working with clients and working with the department’s programs.
Later down the road, she became the county executive director.
“I got lucky enough to come home,” she said.
Over the years, the biggest changes have been in technology.
“When I went to school, there were no computers and we did everything manually,” Mathews said. “We used to have a huge machine to do newsletters.”
However, Mathews said it has been harder to adapt to new technology as the years go on.
“It’s time for me to go,” she said. “I have so many fun memories, and I’ve met tons of great people, but it’s time for me to step down.”
Mathews will retire at the end of the month, and she’s looking forward to the next chapter of her life.
“I know I’m going to stay busy with my family and grandchildren,” she said.
Mathews is the treasurer of the Maeystown Sportsmen’s Club, and plans to be involved in various local not-for-profit organizations.
Her husband, Robert “Odie” Mathews, died in February 2008 after a two-year battle with Squamous Cell Carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
In his name, Linda and her family founded an organization called the Robert Mathews Foundation for Families in Need.
“After he passed, we wanted to help out others who have serious health issues and keep the money local,” she said. “It just costs too much to be sick.”
The foundation helps residents in Monroe County lessen the strain of being seriously ill by helping cover different kinds of medical bills.
Mathews plans to continue her work with the foundation and help the county as much as she possibly can.
“We wish we could help the whole world,” she said.
The year 2013 marked the sixth year of the foundation, and they were able to raise $14,000 last year for the cause. They also host an annual event each year.
This past summer, Mathews spearheaded “Joe-Joe’s Big Day,” an event that helped to make a 5-year-old cancer patient’s dreams come true.
The county partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to put on a cowboy-themed day at the fairgrounds and other locations for the young boy from Kansas City named Joe Charles.
Along with helping to organize events such as this, Mathews said she plans to simply enjoy taking life at a slower pace in her retirement.
“Right now, everything’s by the seat of my pants,” she said. “Once you’re retired, you can enjoy life more.”