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September 2014

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Three Pillars caregiver, Cheryl Haese, heads to retirement after 30 years

For the past 30 years, Cheryl Haese was there to lean on.

Literally.

To her, as a caregiver at Three Pillars Senior Living Communities in Dousman, this was part of the job.

"Cheryl has been an extra arm to hold on to," said Jess Lindemann, who has worked alongside Haese in restorative therapy at the Three Pillar's Health Care Center. "She has always been hands-on, giving that much needed face-to-face time to get our patients rehabilitated."

It was a recent Friday morning, and Lindemann was seated at a conference room table, just off the rehabilitation wing talking about how Haese - who first walked through the doors at Three Pillars in late-1982 looking for a job - was about to retire. Haese was at the table too, looking at her hands, obviously uncomfortable with the praise.

Moments earlier, Mark Strautman, chief executive officer at Three Pillars, called Haese "a rock" to her fellow caregivers - an "always dependable and even keel" mentor. To her patients, he continued, the soft-spoken and ever-smiling Haese exuded a calming presence that immediately put patients at ease. "Her natural caring personality has helped make our environment here as homelike as possible," Strautman said.

Haese, who looked even more uncomfortable talking about herself, quickly gave credit to her husband for urging her to take the career path while she was in her mid-30s. "He thought I would be good at it," she said, of soon enrolling in a nursing aide program at Waukesha County Technical College.

Then, after receiving her certification, Haese applied at Three Pillars, where a new health care center was being added to the longstanding Masonic senior living campus, off Dousman Main Street. She was hired - and would never be a nurse anywhere else.

Her goal, Haese said of working primarily in restorative therapy, was to bring patients back to the highest level of health and independence as possible. Simply put, she said, she was there "to get them moving again."

Most of all, Haese said she will miss the friendships she made with patients, residents and staff. However, Haese, an Oconomowoc resident who has always worked fulltime since she began, added that she also looks forward to sleeping in and spending more time with her husband at their cottage in northern Wisconsin.

She also is anticipating her retirement party that the Three Pillars staff is holding on her final day on Feb. 8. In fact, Haese noted, it will be one day after her birthday. "I'll be 66," she said.

As for her own health, Haese said she feels good. Although she admitted that some rheumatoid arthritis in both knees has given her more trouble the past couple of years. "But," she said, shrugging and giving a wave of a hand, "everybody has aches and pains."

Hearing this, Lindemann said she "never saw anything slow her down." Lindemann continued on, saying she marveled at Haese's seemingly limitless energy, and how she balanced her life as a wife, mother and tireless coworker. "Cheryl has always been the busiest person I know," she said.

Haese smiled at the last comment. Normally, a person being described like this prompts a shake of the head, expressingexhaustion. Haese, however, held her head high, and said "Thank you" to her. For a hardworking person - who has taken pride in a lifelong work - like Haese, this was the greatest of compliments.

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