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Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

At 76, county employee won't call it quits

Friday, April 12, 2002

State honors New Madrid County clerk's chief deputy as 'Missouri Older Worker'

NEW MADRID - She's 76 and she could have retired a long time ago but quitting isn't one of those words Nadine Collier uses. Instead she adds new duties, takes on new challenges and continues to share her knowledge after nearly three decades of service to county residents.

This dedication has earned her the admiration of her co-workers and recognition by the state as one of its outstanding "Missouri Older Workers." Collier was presented with a certificate honoring her as runner-up in the regional competition recently.

Chief deputy clerk in the office of New Madrid County Clerk Jim W. Farrenburg, Collier began working in the County Clerk's office in 1973. Then Jesse Wilkins headed the office and his assistant, Farrenburg, was directing the new voter registration program and needed help. Collier, a resident of Lilbourn, came to the rescue.

The voter registration program was a big task. As workers canvassed the county for voters, the paperwork would come back in boxes to Collier, who would type everything in triplicate. It all had to be done quickly and accurately.

"It didn't take me long to learn where all the precincts were," said Collier with a smile. "They kept asking me 'Are; we going to make it?' Well, we did."

Eventually she would move out from under the mountain of paperwork, taking over the bookkeeping for the New Madrid County clerk's office, which develops the county's budget each year and oversees payroll for the county's more than 100 employees.

"It's been fantastic," said Collier about her work. "I think this is one of the best managed counties in the state."

She added she appreciates Farrenburg's confidence in her abilities. "He turns me loose and lets me do things, that is what I like. If we make mistakes, he will help us correct it. You learn better that way."

Also she helps others learn. As other staff were hired, Collier served as a guiding force for the County Clerk's office.

The importance of accuracy and efficiency is stressed by Collier, said Sherri Burton, who works with her. "She makes sure everything is done thoroughly and correctly."

Vera Strickland, who has worked with Collier 19 years, found Collier an inspiration not only in the office but outside as well. "She has a lot of good traits. She is a very loving, caring person. I know she is a wonderful mother."

In nominating their co-worker for the Missouri Older Worker Award, they noted Collier's life outside of the office has revolved around her family.

Married to Clyde "Speedy" Collier in 1948, the couple had one child, Peter, who was born with Down's Syndrome. "Being the special people they were Speedy and Nadine loved and nurtured Peter with every ounce of their being. Together they were one big happy family," they wrote in the nomination letter.

After her husband's death in 1997, Collier continued to work and care for their son. Recently, Peter has become ill and now requires round-the-clock care, which his mother oversees.

Her admiring co-workers noted: "Nadine is so strong that she still works five days a week and stays up most nights to care for her son. All you mothers know that even though you have a night nurse, no one could care for your child like mamma can. ... It's unbelievable to all of us how she handles all she does."

Collier dismisses too much concern about herself, rather she prefers to talk about her work and other activities. She still is active in her church at Lilbourn, serving as the church bookkeeper and on the daycare board. Also she likes to work in her yard.

Her boss describes her simply as "the ultimate employee." Farrenburg added: "Nadine is such a versatile individual. I haven't found anything she can't do. There is no amount of pay to repay her for what she has done in this job."

But it isn't the pay that keeps Collier at her desk in the county court house. Burton explained it best: "She is for what is best for New Madrid County. It is a job she takes seriously. She is looking out for the people, this county and its future."