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Recognizing Lynette Sagstuen as She Retires After 40 Years

Alerus | JUL 07, 2017

Overcoming Obstacles to Become one of our longest-tenured employees

On June 26, 1977, an ailing Elvis Presley performed at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis, a show the once-revered singer agreed to put on as a birthday present to his manager, Tom Parker. It would be the final time his voice – a blend of tenor, baritone, and bass that remains one of the most recognizable and unusual in music history – was heard through a live microphone. 

The next day, nearly a thousand miles away in North Dakota, a young woman named Lynette Sagstuen started a new job. She was hired to join the proofing department of Grand Forks-based First National Bank North Dakota. Proof operators must have a keen eye for detail and an aptitude for math in order to process checks and deposit or withdrawal slips accurately and efficiently. It’s the kind of work that goes mostly unheralded but without which a bank couldn’t function. 

Lynette has never heard Elvis’ voice. Or anyone else’s voice, for that matter. Born with profound deafness – the most complete of all hearing impairments – Lynette was and is unable to hear anything at all. 

On the list of the things most of us take for granted in the working world and in life, sound is somewhere near the top. Phones ring and we answer. Someone talks in a meeting and we listen. Greetings and goodbyes and to-be-continueds keep the machinery of work rolling. We are enveloped by sound at all times. So much so that people take vacations to go climb mountains, disappear into the woods around a lake, or fly to islands in the middle of the ocean – any place where the volume isn’t turned up so high.

This month, Lynette is retiring from Alerus after 40 years of service, making her one of the longest-tenured employees we’ve ever had. As a commercial deposit processor, she’s done bookkeeping research, proofing, and is the only vault teller our busy Banksouth location has ever known. All of this she has accomplished despite never hearing an instruction from a supervisor.  

One wonders what Lynette would make of the sounds that have filled this place for the last 40 years. The shuffle of papers being filed. The plasticky click of endorsements being stamped on the backs of countless checks. And the less describable sound of the paper-based workplace being transformed by the glow of computer monitors and the chiming of email notifications.

Thank you, Lynette, for four decades of service and for persevering and overcoming challenges most of us can barely contemplate. We wish her nothing but the best in her well-earned retirement. Lynette, although you never heard it, your current and former co-workers spoke with a loud voice about the great experiences they had working with you.

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