Probstfield retires after multi-faceted career

Saturday, June 16, 2018

History includes legal work, banking, tax returns, clerical

At the age of 74, Sondra Probstfield, of Monett, decided it was finally time to retire.

She was honored Thursday, May 31, with a reception and a skyline acrylic corporate award for her 27 years of service with the Mercy Health system. There, she worked taking dictation, working patient accounts and insurance.

"I had been out of the workforce for about 10 years when I started working with Dr. Sergio Cruz as a secretary," she said. "I tried to learn my new tasks and learn how to use an electric typewriter. I worked for Dr. Cruz for 13 year and later went to work for Dr. Gudapati in Aurora for two years."

At that time, she also started working for Drs. Costley and Schmitz as a transcriptionist in the evenings, as well as John Lowery in physical therapy and with Jim Randall, who was serving as a police judge.

"I worked for both Dr. Costley and Dr. Schmitz until Sister Marita [Pozek, administrator of St. Vincent's Hospital] and St. John's sold the hospital to CoxHealth," she said. "At that time, Dr. Costley decided to sign on with the Cox organization and I stayed with Dr. Schmitz and worked as his manager. He later signed on with St. John's, and we moved to 315 E. Cleveland to work with Dr. Andelin. John Tucker was the overall manager and my position was to assist him with dictation, working patient accounts and insurance."

Throughout all of these transitions, Probstfield faced many challenges of ever-changing protocols in the medical field.

"Some were good, some were not so good," she said. "But time marches on and we must change for the betterment of the future."

But her 27 years with the Mercy system is just a blip on the screen of her working career.

"I started babysitting for a family with two children while I was in high school," she said. "I would walk the children to school every day and bring them home at night, staying with them until their parents arrived home. I probably took care of more than 50 children while I was a teenager. I also worked in the office of the high school administrator, filing and other tasks that needed done. In my senior year of high school, I worked for Almon Maus, a lawyer in Monett, typing legal forms. He had an electric typewriter, which was foreign to me and took some adjustment. The only typewriter I had ever used was in high school and there were no letters [on the keys]. We had to memorize the keyboard."

After graduation, Probstfield went to work for First National Bank in Monett.

Milburn Walker was vice president, and Vance Davis was president," she said. "Milburn interviewed me and hired me for bookkeeping. My daily tasks included counting and wrapping bags of money the tellers would need in their drawers. I worked on check machines and had to make sure all written checks were complete with signatures. I was later moved to work the drive through window.

"I worked with Dayton Mackey, Earnest Langer, Willie Bradford, Laura Aderhold, Paul Camp, Dale Long, Esther Hall and many other co-workers through the years."

When she became pregnant with her son, Marty, she left First National to be a stay-at-home mom.

"I later started working at St. Vincent's Hospital in the admissions office," she said. "Sister Clement was the administrator and Sister Vivian was the office manager. I worked until I became pregnant with my daughter, Melissa, and this time, decided to stay at home for awhile to take care of my children. She had two more daughters during that time, Mila and Meghan.

"I took care of other children in my home to make extra money, along with typing tax returns, typing a history book for an author," she said. "At one time, I worked for Bass [Equipment]."

Her career as a cleric in the medical field came about when she and her husband, David, decided they needed a larger home for their growing family.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

"The many people I have met throughout the years has been astounding," she said. "I have been in the public life for over 42 years, and what an experience that life has given me.

"I thank God for the opportunity He has given me to serve Him throughout all the wonderful and not so wonderful people I have encountered in my life. It's been a great life, but I am now looking to the new adventure God has in store for me."