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Donna Barker

How do you know when it’s Saturday?

“How do you know when it’s Saturday?”

My husband asked that question, only half-jokingly, a few weeks into his retirement 18 months ago. I had never thought about retirement before in that way, but it made sense to me as I considered my husband’s new lifestyle. For years, he had typically worked Monday through Friday, with Sunday as church day. Saturday was the other day of the week. But now, Saturday looked a lot like the Monday through Friday for him.

I didn’t have an answer for my husband back then, and I don’t have one for him now. But in a few weeks, I’m sure I will be working through those same lifestyle change issues myself.

After 16 years as a reporter at the Bureau County Republican, I am retiring at the end of this week. (I actually have 21 years with the BCR, as I worked here for five years after college and before our first child was born.)

I’m entering retirement with a lot of excitement, but I have to admit there is a twinge of sadness too. I have had an amazing time at the BCR, and in some ways, it’s hard to close that chapter.

I could go on and on about the individuals who have impacted my life, but I know I would inadvertently leave someone out. So let me simply say, it has been my privilege to get to know so many of you, to be entrusted with your stories, to be in your homes and communities, to be in your schools and businesses, to be at your meetings. I am so much the better person because of you.

I have learned a lot from you. I have learned about budgets and tax levies and general obligation bonds. I have learned about wind farms and sanitary sewer systems. As I’ve gone into classrooms around Bureau County, I’ve learned first-hand about the dedication of our teachers and the accomplishments of our children. I have learned about courage as I watched Bureau County families come face-to-face with some very challenging times, things like house fires and life-changing medical needs. I have also learned about the compassion of the Bureau County people as they have gathered around those families to help them.

I have been stretched and humbled and challenged to become a kinder person, a more informed citizen because of my interactions with you. I am indebted to the BCR for all those opportunities I have had.

Of course, I am also indebted to my co-workers, who are probably the best co-workers in the state. I have loved working on a team that takes pride in its products and who support each other on the good days and the not-so-good days. We are not just co-workers; we are friends. I don’t like to think about not being a daily part of their lives any more.

Maybe most of all, I will miss no longer being able to identify myself by saying, “I am Donna Barker with the Bureau County Republican.”

But as one identity ends, another one is formed.

A few weeks back, I read an article about retirement, likening it to a ball game. According to the article, ball games are won or lost in the second half, and so it is with life.

Though I’m not sure what retirement will look like for me, I do know I want to finish as strong as possible. I want to continue to learn and to be stretched, to serve a bit more, and even to relax a bit more. I’m excited, yet thoughtful, about the possibilities ahead of me.

But in a few weeks, if you see me on Main Street, looking a bit confused and trying to find the calendar on my smart phone, don’t hesitate to come over and offer to help me. After all, I’ll probably just be trying to figure out if it’s Saturday or not ...

BCR Senior Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at