On July 1, those calling the City Manager Mike Podegracz's office at Hesperia City Hall will not be greeted with the calm, even voice of Flo Collier, secretary for city managers for years.
"These 16 years at the city have been pure gold and I've been so grateful to be here," she said. "The city has given me its best and I hope I've given in kind."
Collier previously worked for a Japanese flight school based out of the Hesperia Airport (where she also picked up the ability to speak Japanese and fly an airplane).
But the school shut down soon after a student died in a helicopter crash, and she found herself looking for a new job, in the midst of the recession of the early 1990s.
Then, her future job at city hall seemingly chased her down.
"A newspaper delivery man came up to the door and said 'I have one extra, would you like to read it?'"
Collier wasn't normally a newspaper reader, but took it, and flipped through the classified ads. There she saw a listing for a senior office assistant, and went down to fill out an application. More than 100 applicants applied for a position that the city turned out not to have the funds to fill. It was nearly a year of volunteering for the sheriff's department and at Hesperia Christian Church before she was finally offered the job. From her desk, she's seen the city through three-quarters of its post-incorporation existence.
"It was my privilege to work with city council members on a daily basis and the city managers," she said. "I have seen the growth of the city, but it still has that down-home feel.
"The phone calls are still the same. The people are still the same. ... It's been wonderful growing up with the people here in the city."
But after she retires on June 30, Collier is turning away from the secular things to follow a more spiritual path.
"I've always been very conscious of my physical, mental and spiritual health," she said. "I know that my goal is happiness, giving it and experiencing it. ... There are a lot of problems in this world, and I can't solve them, but I don't want to add to them."
She plans on living 46 more years, which would make her 120 years old, the age the Book of Genesis says are given to man.
"That will give me the time that I need to continue to let go of any qualities that separate me from God."
As for what that means on a daily basis, she isn't quite sure of yet, but she intends to do things that keep her excited and happy to roll out of bed and get to work.
"I want to live happily ever after," Collier said. "It's not a new chapter: It's a whole new book."
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.