Marie Peer, center row in the purple sweater, poses with her friends, family and coworkers last month during a party in her honor. On Friday Peer will retire from the Moffat County Department of Social Services after 43 years and 11 months of service.

courtesy, Moffat County Department of Social Services

Marie Peer, center row in the purple sweater, poses with her friends, family and coworkers last month during a party in her honor. On Friday Peer will retire from the Moffat County Department of Social Services after 43 years and 11 months of service.

A new era

Peer retires from Moffat County Social Services after 43 years.

Quotable...

“It’s definitely going to leave a void, but the biggest thing I am going to miss about (Peer) is her sense of humor,” Pietrick said. “She would get silly when she got stressed, and it was kind of our stress relief to join her and be silly and laugh.”

Melissa Pietrick, assistant to Marie Peer, about Peer’s retirement after 43 years with the Moffat County Department of Social Services.

On Friday one of Moffat County’s longest tenured employees will retire after almost 44 years of service.

And as one might expect the number one thing on Marie Peer’s to do list is to take a well-deserved vacation.

But the 65-year-old retiring director of the Moffat County Department of Social Services isn’t going to Hawaii, Alaska or some exotic overseas locale. The family is treating Peer to her first visit to Washington, D.C., which is more than fine for the self-described history buff.

“I just love history and my hobby is genealogy,” Peer said. “But it’s really the combination of the two that I find most interesting — that understanding of the history of genealogy and being able to place your ancestors in certain places in time.”

Peer is currently reading a book about President Abraham Lincoln and has even traced a couple of her ancestors to significant Civil War battles.

Surprisingly it wasn’t history that charted Peer’s career path in social services.

Peer, originally from northern Iowa near Mason City, studied at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

She started out in 1965 and switched her major three times before discovering and falling in love with sociology.

Peer received her bachelors degree from Luther College and followed her husband, Gary, a schoolteacher, to Craig in Jan. 1969.

A month later she embarked on her career at the Moffat County Department of Social Services as one of two caseworkers. At the time the department also consisted of a director and a receptionist, Peer said.

A lot has changed in her 43 years and 11 months with social services.

Not only did she rise through the ranks first earning a supervisor’s position in 1979 before taking over as director in 1996, but she’s also watched the department grow from four employees offering four programs to more than 24 employees managing 12 different services.

Though Peer is happy she seized the advancement opportunities when they were presented, she doesn’t shy away from talking about her best years with the department.

“Going from a supervisor to a director was a hard decision, as was going from a caseworker to a supervisor, because directly talking to and working with people is so much more rewarding,” Peer said. “I thought maybe there was something I could do to make everyone else’s work easier, but my years as a caseworker would definitely be the years I enjoyed the most.”

It’s not surprising Peer has witnessed her fair share of highs and lows after more than four decades with the same department.

There were times early in her career when she supported people in their search for a career or watched a young couple turn their lives around to be successful parents for their children.

And although there were times when those efforts fell short, there were times when the worst sting came from the departure of a beloved and respected colleague.

“Watching people leave the department is hard,” Peer said. “It’s impossible not to develop a lasting bond with people in this office because we all work so closely together.”

The feeling is more than mutual, said Melissa Pietrick, Peer’s assistant for the last 14 years.

“It’s definitely going to leave a void, but the biggest thing I am going to miss about (Peer) is her sense of humor,” Pietrick said. “She would get silly when she got stressed, and it was kind of our stress relief to join her and be silly and laugh.”

Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or jmoylan@craigdailypress.com.

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