For some people they may have 50 or 60 different jobs before they find one that they truly feel is the right fit for them.
Sixty years ago Tuesday, Norma Bottcher found the job that was the right fit for her and she is still helping people through her work with ophthalmoligst Dr. Joe Bennett.
“Dr. Bennett and I have grown to be like brothers and sisters,” Bottcher said. “I don’t think you can work with some every day for fifty years and not become close to them and their family.
“I think of his family as mine own and I don’t have any plans to retire because I truly love what I do,” Bottcher said.
Although Bottcher has been at work at the optometrist’s office for 60 years Bennett has only owned the practice for the past 50.
“It’s a funny story about how I was first hired here,” Bottcher said. “I was a patient of Dr. Ira White who was an eye, ear, nose and throat doctor.
“One day I went to get my eyes checked, and Dr. White asked me if I knew a lot of people, and I told him quite a few.
“Then he asked me if I knew anyone looking for a job because his receptionist was on maternity leave and he needed to find someone to fill in for her,” Bottcher continued. “I told him I really didn’t at the time but he asked me to think about it.”
Bottcher said she went home that night and thought about it a lot, going so far as to discuss the matter with her husband.
“I called Dr. White the next morning and told him I would be interested in the position but I had no experience,” Bottcher said. “He told me that it wouldn’t be any problem because he liked to train his staff on his own.
“Sixty years later and they still can’t get rid of me,” Bottcher said with a laugh.
Although her job description has changed somewhat over the years, Bottcher said she has tried to do everything that was asked of her.
“I’ve always been the office manager here,” Bottcher said. “I love the financial end of it and working with the numbers.
“But I truly love working with the people too,” Bottcher said. “I managed the optical shop here for years; in fact I set up and ran it for most of the time that we have been here.”
Bottcher no longer actively manages the shop but she is still in charge of the office as well as ordering all of the materials needed for the store such as the glasses and all of the supplies for the office and store.
“We still have customers who will specifically ask me to fit their glasses for them and I am more than happy to do that,” Bottcher said. “After all my time here I am working on my fourth generation of patients.”
Bennett is now seeing his third generation of patients during his 50 years in practice.
“I’ve seen well over 500,000 patients for eye exams in my career,” Bennett said. “I’ve had a very enjoyable practice because I have been blessed with wonderful employees and patients.
“I don’t think I could have picked a better field or career choice,” Bennett said. “Norma has been a very big part of my success though.”
Neither Bottcher nor Bennett has any plans of retirement in the near future.
Bennett said in his spare time he raises and works beef cattle on his three farms.
“I don’t really have any plans to retire anytime soon,” Bennett said. “I have an indoor job with no heavy lifting and my wife tells me if I quit this job she’ll give me an outdoor job will all kinds of heavy lifting.”
Bottcher and Bennett have both scaled back their hours at the office in recent years.
“Dr. Bennett told me I needed to start to slow down a little,” Bottcher said. “I told him I would if he did.
“He said if I could rearrange his schedule he and I would both start to take Fridays off,” she added. “I don’t know anyone more dedicated to their work than Dr. Bennett is though; he will come in on Fridays and nights and weekends to if it is an emergency because he cares that much about his patients.
Bottcher said she just loves to work and can’t imagine not doing so.
“Unless my health changes, I plan to keep on working as long as possible,” Bottcher said. “I truly do love to work and to be around people.
“It gives me a tremendous sense of pride when I can see the look on people’s faces after they get a new pair of glasses and they realize what they couldn’t see before,” Bottcher added. “That and all the people I have met along the way are the best part of what I do.”
Her coworkers obviously feel the same way about Bottcher.
“Some of the girls here have told me that whenever the weather gets bad I just need to call them and they will pick me up and bring me to work because they would rather get me than work here without me and that is just so nice of them,” Bottcher said fondly. “It’s the little things like that that I know I will never forget.
“I just hope in my time here I have helped to make people’s lives better as so many have done for me throughout all my years here.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484