July/August 2020 60Plus OpenerJun 24, 2020 01:47PM ● By Todd Lemke
Mom, Entrepreneur, and Saleswoman Extraordinaire
My mom, Gwen, is retiring from Omaha Publications. She has worked the past 69 years of her life, starting at age 15 as an elevator girl for the Blackstone Hotel. My mom has set an example of discipline and work my entire life. And what a successful and varied work life example she has given to me and my brothers. She taught dance lessons, owned an insurance agency, and owned one of Omaha’s largest real estate companies, before spending 20-plus years at Omaha Magazine. Mom lives in Plattsmouth, but was usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. She taught us “work comes first.”
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family where I was encouraged to take chances and live by the golden rule. Mom never offered excuses, only opportunities. I remember when Mom wanted to retire after her real estate days, but I approached her with needing help selling small ads in high school sporting programs. Without hesitation, she said yes, and turned into one of our top, and most consistent, salespeople, producing sales across nearly all of our 20-plus publications. Thank you, Mom.
Many of you know my mother for her passion and compassion when helping companies with marketing—whether it was print display space, emails and web ads, or programmatic advertising. She tackled each new project with an open mind, curiosity, and vigor. Mom was our associate editor for this section called “60-Plus in Omaha,” and she conceived and coordinated our popular “Prime Time” section every January.
I was often asked “Todd when do you plan to retire?.” My answer was always the same, “I can’t. How would it look to retire before my mom?.” These last several years Mom lost my father, Ray, and my youngest brother, Tyler, yet remained positive and engaged. She misses them both immensely, but also knows she must stay active and connected. Mom is always there for every family member. She has been the example of compassion and encouragement.
Mom you have paid your dues, job well done. You have set the bar high, and now is the time to take some time for yourself.
This letter first appeared in the July/August 2020 edition of 60PLUS in Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.