If Al Tebbe hadn’t run into Nancy Roling at a wedding dance in September 1968, her life might have taken an entirely different direction.
Roling was looking for a job, and Tebbe, who worked in the Jackson County Treasurer’s Office, suggested she interview for an open position there.
In the morning, Roling interviewed for a job counting coupons in Clinton. That afternoon, she came in to interview at the treasurer’s office.
“Can you start at 8:30 tomorrow morning?” asked Jackson County Treasurer Harold Feeney.
In that first week, Roling wasn’t sure what she’d gotten herself into, and she didn’t think she liked it. She had no idea then that she would spend a long and prominent career in the office, rising to position of treasurer in 2011.
“I didn’t like it at all,” she remembers. “Everything was in triplicate. You had to type everything out on a manual typewriter. But I plugged away at it, and I’m glad that I did.”
Her mother, Margaret Roling, counseled Nancy.
“You just have to keep trying,” Nancy remembers her saying. “I never expected to say I’ve been here this long.”
Things really clicked for Roling once she got into the calculations of the treasurer’s office.
“I always loved working with numbers,” she said. She balances to the penny every day. She jokes that she still counts change back and makes sure the bills are facing the right way.
Her aptitude for math and people skills made her a perfect fit for the office, from which she’ll be retiring in just days.
“I’m going to miss the public,” Roling said. “If it wouldn’t have been for the public, I wouldn’t have a job. I enjoy working for the public.”
Most residents of Jackson County have some interactions with the treasurer’s office, through driver’s licenses, property taxes, vehicle registrations, or other office responsibilities.
Roling’s career has spanned from addressograph machines and “lots of carbon” to the computerization of the present day. When she started, all vehicle registrations had to be completed in December and January, and people waited in line at the office for new plates every year.
Besides collecting and disbursing tax payments, the treasurer’s office now does driver’s licenses and tax sales, along with a myriad of other financial management and tax tasks.
In 2019, Beth Gerlach will step into Roling’s shoes as county treasurer, after winning the general election in November. Gerlach has been spending the last several weeks training with Roling and will receive training and mentorship through the Iowa State Association of Counties.
Gerlach will be the first treasurer in more than at least six or seven decades to win the seat without having first worked in the office.
Before Christmas, Roling is almost ready for retirement. She said she’ll leave the pictures on the wall if Gerlach wants them. If not, she’ll take them back to Goodwill where she got them.
Roling is looking forward to spending more time landscape quilting and enjoying time with her mother, who lives in Preston. She thanked her family for all their support through the years.
She also thanked her current staff and long-time co-workers Jane Ernst and Jean Ambrosy, who became “almost like family.” The three women spent more than four decades working together.
“They were really, really my rock,” Roling said, especially as she learned her final office role as treasurer.
Roling also thanked the Jackson County supervisors who “trusted me enough to appoint me,” before her election.
“If you would have told me, when I started, that I would be in the treasurer’s position now, I would have told you you were nuts,” she laughed.