Juneau County Clerk Kathleen Kobylski will miss many things about her job but, most of all, she will miss helping people.
After 18 years in the clerk’s office, Kobylski has decided to retire. Her last official day is Saturday. Kobylski enjoyed getting to know the people of Juneau County. Her impact on the community was evident during the Dec. 20 county board meeting. After receiving honors from the county, state and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the board gave Kobylski a standing ovation. County treasurer Denise Giebel, who shares an office with Kobylski, wiped tears from her eyes.
During county board meetings, Kobylski called roll call for resolutions before they were passed. Kobylski estimated she called 1,407 roll calls in her 18 years as clerk. After being honored at the Dec. 20 meeting, Kobylski thanked the board and called every member by their first name.
“I wanted to lighten the mood and do something different by calling them by their first names after so many years of calling them by their last name,” she said. “That part was really interesting to me because it made me smile when I was up there.”
Kobylski’s long run as clerk concludes almost 40 years in county government. She served as a board supervisor before becoming county clerk and was clerk for the town of Marion.
“I like government because the types of positions I’ve had have been in serving the people,” Kobylski said. “Helping people, doing things for them and taking care of things, that was my main goal. You get used to having people around... It’s going to be quiet at home.”
When she became clerk in 1998, Kobylski was the first female in county history elected to the position. Through the years, one of her most important duties was handling elections. This year brought unique challenges, such as changes in voting, and the presidential election recount.
“Elections are exciting for me, even with this last recount,” she said. “You might not have felt it was necessary, but it was challenging because you wanted the numbers to come out the same way it did from when you canvassed. It depends how you look at things. It was interesting going through the process.”
As clerk, Kobylski also approved marriage licenses. Being a soft-hearted, optimistic person, she was touched by couples who remarried after a divorce.
“I’m an optimist, I always think positively about things,” Kobylski said. “But there are so many aspects of this job that it’s hard to pick out what I’m most proud of. That’s why it’s so interesting.”
During her time on county board, Kobylski served on several committees, gaining valuable experience in local government. When she ran for county clerk, she promoted her election experience as the town of Marion’s clerk. She will miss the hectic nature of election night.
“Oh yes, they are exciting. You do have surprises sometimes,” Kobylski said. “I really enjoyed everything about this office, that’s why I stayed so long.”
County Board Chairman Alan Peterson has known Kobylski for about 60 years. Peterson hugged her before she gave a brief speech at last week’s board meeting.
“She’s a real good person to know,” Peterson said. “She had a lot of experience coming in as clerk. She knew what she was doing.”
The county chairman said Kobylski’s commitment to the county will be greatly missed.
“She does a lot for the chairman, almost serving as a secretary,” he said. “She does all the minutes, lines up meetings and has been a great help to me. She is a real good worker and has made my job a lot easier.”
As she looks forward to retirement, Kobylski doesn’t have any major plans. She is excited to spend time with Albert, her husband of 55 years, her three sons and grandchildren. Kobylski, who grew up in Lyndon Station, met Albert in high school.
“After our third son, we moved back to where he grew up, along Highway 82, by Woodside Ranch,” Kobylski said.
Being an avid sports fan, Kobylski also plans to catch up on the Packers, Brewers and Badgers. She fondly remembers the glorious Lombardi Era and, like many Packer fans, shares an affinity for Hall of Famer Brett Favre.
“Even when they were bad for all those years, you still rooted for them,” she said. “I am a huge Favre fan. His games were the most exciting as far as I’m concerned. But I also remember Bart Starr scoring the winning touchdown in the Ice Bowl.”
Kobylski wishes incoming clerk Teri Wafle-Treptow the best of luck. Wafle-Treptow will be sworn in on Tuesday, Jan. 3.