Becker retires after 32 years with the Herald

Kevin Cederstrom One of her favorite pieces of office humor Becky Becker likes to comment on in her 32 years working in the New York Mills Herald office is she's seen as many editors as years come and go. It's a bit of an exaggerat...

Kevin Cederstrom

One of her favorite pieces of office humor Becky Becker likes to comment on in her 32 years working in the New York Mills Herald office is she's seen as many editors as years come and go.

It's a bit of an exaggeration but not too much of a stretch when talking about the change she has seen in over three decades. Through all the change and staff turnover Becky remained the Herald office constant. On Tuesday, Becky's 32-year career in the newspaper business comes to an end with her retirement.

"Thirty-two years, and about 32 editors," she jokes. "Some lasted a year, some two days. Some came back."


"I remember the day I walked in here," Becky recalls when she applied for an office position. "I called Mike (Parta) at home and he was probably thinking, 'who the heck is this lady?'

Becky started with the Herald in May of 1977. She took care of the front desk, answering the phones, taking classified ads, and handling subscriptions. She worked three days a week, which gradually grew into more hours until she was full-time within that first year.

Advances in technology is perhaps the biggest change she has seen while manning the Herald office.

"The one thing I'll always remember is the very first computer in this office," she says.

A technician came and brought a computer and program to be used for payroll.

"He showed us how to use it, and the next day Mike went to Canada fishing. I was so mad at him," Becky said with a laugh.

That first computer was over 20 years ago.

Change can be difficult at times but Becky recalls technology advances at the newspaper have definitely been for the better. The days of teletype, cutting, pasting, waxing to make up pages, then driving each week's issue to Wadena for printing are long gone.


Becky recalls the days of paste-up and how Mike once told her some day the pages would all be done electronically. "I just laughed at him when he said that."

How times have changed. No more cutting. No more pasting. No more waxing. Pages are now built entirely on the computer and sent to the printers electronically.

Becky spent the better part of 25 years working for the Parta family - who owned the Herald until about eight years ago. She speaks fondly of working for the Partas and the family-owned community newspaper. Over those years with the Partas, Becky recalls many times where her duties stretched beyond her regular office tasks. Like the time Mike and Jan Parta left on vacation and called her at home from the Cities because they forgot their passports. Becky got up at 5 a.m. and drove the passports to the Partas so they had the passports in time to catch their flight.

Sure there were the occasional passport runs or having to send the medications her bosses forgot to pack on vacation, but there are many stories and fond memories associated with her career at the Herald and friendships made.

"This job has had a lot of advantages. I worked close to home. Mike and Jan always let me leave for school programs. Or Jan would say, 'let's go have some coffee', and we'd leave for a while."

Jan Parta used to handle the advertising sales and when the paper was sold to Forum Communications Becky took over those duties soon after. She continued to work full-time selling ads and as office manager.

She hit the streets each week to sell ads, building valuable relationships along the way with local business owners, managers and employees.

"Sometimes they'd joke and say, 'now what do you want' when they see me walk in," Becky said this week in reflecting on her career. "People have been really good to me and they've supported the paper very well with special sections, tournament tabs, and other advertising. I'll miss that part - seeing people everyday."


Yes, she's retiring, but Becky says she's not leaving town. Her and husband, Ken, will spend their retirement enjoying time with their grandkids, trips to the cabin. She also plans to spend more time scrapbooking, beading, and working on other crafts. No major retirement plans in the works but Becky plans on doing "whatever she wants, whenever she wants."

An open house to celebrate Becky's retirement will be held Sept. 30, 2-4 p.m., at the Mills Creamery. Coffee, cookies, and cake will be served.

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