Students, staff and school teachers at 100 Mile Elementary School said “bye, bye” to their much-loved secretary of 50 years, Dimps Horn, who officially retired on Sept. 29.
Principal Donna Rodger held an assembly in Dimps’ (as everyone in the school and community call her) honour in the gym for all the students and teachers, while many children lined up to personally say what they would each miss most, and each presenting a single stem flower that quickly made up a big bouquet.
“It’s time to say goodbye,” “we hope you have a good life,” “we will all miss you here,” “thank you so much for doing everything at the school” were common phrases said by the children, and laughter rang across the gym from “thank you for all the times you helped when I got hurt and when I got in trouble.”
Later, the school’s current and former staff and others who worked closely with Dimps gathered to share a big retirement cake (chocolate) and social time, packing the school library to “standing room only.”
Staff then serenaded Dimps, accompanied by guitar, with a song written just for their honoured retiree.
“Bye, Bye, Dear Dimps Good-Bye, we can’t believe you’re leaving and we think we might cry,” and “Now it’s time to say good-bye, how did 50 years go by” were just some of its quaint clips to the tune of Don McLean’s Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie.
Dimps first started at her job in the office at 100 Mile Elementary in the fall of 1967 working under principal Cliff Orr, her diploma in hand, fresh out of studying business for two years at Vancouver Vocational School after graduating from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School in 1965.
Lots of staff have come and gone over that time, many still in the community today, but Dimps was the one who stayed in her role for five decades.
Now, she says she will “miss the people” there more than anything, and will “miss it all – just being there, walking through those doors, and even the whole essence of 100 Mile Elementary.”
Born and raised in the South Cariboo, she has also spent her whole life operating her family business and ranch of 67 years, Watch Lake Lodge – on top of her job at the school.
Dimps explains she mostly worked in the school’s office full-time, and went to a shorter week to help out with the resort business after her mother died, and then, after her father passed away, she went back to the full-time job she trained for, as school secretary.
“No green grass is going to grow underneath my feet, because I basically have a full-time job at home.”
Dimps does hope to take a true holiday soon, leaving her business in the capable hands of her network of staff and family at Watch Lake Lodge.
“I haven’t really had one since dad died … in the summer you look after people, and in the winter you look after animals, the cows and the horses.”
Her aim is for a no-program holiday, somewhere not regimented by timed events and shows, as are the occasional rodeos she attends, and to instead “sit by a pool in the sunshine and be warm and just read, and not do absolutely anything.”
Holidays or not, and even after 50 years, Dimps stresses that her decision to retire from the school is “not easy for me – it was very, very difficult.”
She says it feels almost like “weaning the calves” to emotionally pull herself away from her role at the school held since she was 20 years old, where the students, teachers, administrators, parents, and staff were all “a huge part” of her life.
“They were all great people. It was all good, and it will leave a big hole in my life … but it will leave wonderful memories.”