On June 2, Sue Lunsford will retire from Hospice Care Plus after 33 years of service.
An open-house celebration in honor of her retirement, Sue’s “It’s Bittersweet” Farewell, will be held May 26 between 11 AM and 2 PM at Hospice Care Plus & Compassionate Care Center on 350 Isaacs Lane in Richmond. All are invited to stop by during that time to celebrate Sue’s retirement. Refreshments will be provided.
Sue’s time at Hospice goes back to the beginning of the organization, just eight years after it was founded. In 1989, when Sue was hired, the local non-profit was known as Madison County Hospice. No other employee has served longer.
Hospice Care Plus CEO Lisa Cox says Sue will be missed.
“I am still new to the organization, so I can speak to how welcome and cared for Sue makes every new employee feel,” says Lisa. “She is respected and loved by the entire staff. We will miss her greatly, but she has earned this retirement and this time with her family.”
Although Sue’s first role at Hospice Care Plus was in insurance billing and accounts payable, she worked in many areas and departments over her three decades. She will retire as the director of human resources.
Sue recalled that the earliest days at Hospice were humble but deeply rewarding.
“Our offices were in a split-level, three-bedroom apartment on Geri Lane,” she says. “We only had a few patients. There were just five or six employees, and all of us helped with anything that needed to be done. I got to help in all areas, and I really enjoyed that.”
One of the ways Sue helped was by supporting the patients and families Hospice served.
“I remember Barb, our nurse, saying that one of our patients could use a good meal once a week. So, when I made Sunday dinner, I would set aside enough to make her a plate. Barb delivered it to her each Monday when she made her weekly nursing visit. After a while, her daughters asked to meet me, so I went for a visit with her. Months later, when she died, they gave me a little figurine they wanted me to have.”
After 33 years, Sue can condense the source of her longevity into one thing: family.
“Hospice became my other family,” she says. “When my husband Wayne died suddenly in 2009 in our 50th year of marriage, nearly every single staff member came to the funeral. A lot of them thought I might not come back. But the way they supported me, I had to. I just didn’t have a choice.”
After retirement, Sue looks forward to spending more time with her adult children, five grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren. As she makes that transition, she has advice for others on work-life balance.
“So often, when he was still alive and I was working late, Wayne would call me and ask, ‘What’s the matter? Won’t your car start?’ It was a joke and we both laughed. But now, I wish I had spent more time with him while I had him, instead of working so many long hours. So, my advice is to take it. Take that time you have with the people you love. It’s important.”
Enjoy the following snippets from Sue on her time with Hospice Care Plus, and be sure to follow Sue’s retirement event on Facebook.
On how she came to Hospice Care Plus:
“I was working at the station. It was September of 1989. Wayne and I owned a Shell station in Berea. One day, Geri Heinemeyer, the president of the board of what was then Madison County Hospice, came in for a fill up. She asked me if I’d like to work for them. I told her I’d have to think about it. A few days later, she and Janet Brandenburg, who was the executive director at the time, took me out to lunch. It was at the Down Under in downtown Richmond. They offered me a full-time job, and I accepted. My first day was September 5, 1989.”
What the early days were like:
“There were only about five of us working at the time. I remember that split-level apartment on Geri Lane that was our office. I worked downstairs, and Annrietta Stolte worked upstairs. She would peer over the rail to see what I was working on.”
“I remember when we got our first desk. Geri Heinemeyer’s husband worked for IBM and got it donated for us.”
“There were so few of us, I got to help out in all kinds of areas, even with patients sometimes in ways I could support them. I enjoyed that.”
“In those early days, we had one policy for inclement weather and we kept receipts in paper bags. We’ve come a long way.”
On the changes in leadership and location:
“I’ve worked for four CEOs: Janet Brandenburg, Greg Hancock, Gail McGillis, and Lisa Cox.”
“I think I helped move our offices five times. We were on Geri Lane, then Boggs Lane, then on St. George Street in Richmond, then we relocated to Berea on Kidd Drive, and we just moved those offices into our Compassionate Care Center.”
On supporting patients and families: “These are the people and the stories that kept me here so long.”
“I really enjoyed being able to help out. I remember one gentleman who the staff said was feeling lonely. The staff caring for him found out that he had been an accountant and put him in touch with me. We talked just about every day. He helped me learn more about how to keep the books for Hospice, and I helped give him a little companionship with those daily calls.”
“One time, the team asked me if I would deliver medicines to a patient who lived close to me on my way home. When I got there, I found her a little out of sorts. She had spilled food and drink and was struggling to get cleaned up. I stayed with her until we had the room clean, she was clean, and she was tucked into bed for the night. It always felt good to be able to help out like that.”
“These are the people and the stories that kept me here so long.”
On making work a good place to be:
“I used to like to make breakfast for the staff every now and then. The staff used to say no one made scrambled eggs like mine. I would make biscuits, gravy, and eggs. A nurse who’s no longer with us, Peggy Carpenter, would make hash browns. I’d wear my pink and white gingham apron with ruffled sleeves. Those are good memories.”
“I had some of the best times working with people like Judy Hall and Judy Benge on projects to save Hospice money, like removing wallpaper ourselves instead of hiring help. But we laughed and had such a good time doing it.”
On interesting things people may not know about her:
“Wayne and I built and ran the Dinner Bell in Berea. We ran it for several years. We had service stations, too.”
“Wayne started driving a fuel tanker, and I would go with him on weekends. He taught me how to unload 8,500 gallons of fuel. He even taught me how to drive the tanker.”
On plans for the future:
“I’m looking forward to camping trips a few times a year with one of my daughters, and to traveling around the country with another daughter. And I really enjoy spending time at the pool with my great grandkids.”
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