HAGER CITY --- Sandy Sorenson started in the banking industry when she was 17-years-old.
"I started in the mailroom at First National Bank in St. Paul," she remembered. "I loved it."
The love of working for a bank hasn't stopped, as she has risen through the ranks over the years through her current job as Head Teller/Bank Security Officer for Hiawatha National Bank (HNB) in Hager City.
That is as of 6 p.m. Thursday, when her retirement became official after 16 years at HNB and nearly 40 in the banking business.
"I'll miss the people, but not the day-to-day grind," she said, fighting back tears. "We have some of the most interesting customers, I'll miss that. I'll miss the girls, but I'll be right across the river. (She and husband Henry, who will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary next year, live in Red Wing.)
"I don't think it'll sink in until 5 p.m. today. It'll hit me tomorrow when I wake up and I don't have to go to work."
Sorenson was born in Sunnyside, Wash., but grew up in the Twin Cities area. After high school graduation, she started work at First National Bank in the mailroom and moved her way up the proof department.
Sorenson then moved to the First National Bank in Albert Lea, Minn., which was Henry's hometown. (Sorenson had a cousin who also lived in Albert Lea and introduced the two).
She then came back to the Cities area, working for Northwest Banks (now Wells Fargo) out of Maple Grove, Minn., and Red Wing. She was with Northwest for 22 years before being a victim of corporate downsizing.
After working in hospitals and for an attorney, she found out that wasn't her cup of tea and wanted back in the banking business. She jumped at the opportunity when Hiawatha National had the opening back in 1990.
"There have been a lot of changes in 16 years, but the biggest one has been from going to doing mostly everything by hand to compute," she said.
Throughout her career, for example, she's been a teller, proofer, handled new accounts and was an assistant cashier.
"By starting at the very bottom, I've gained a lot of knowledge that I want to try and pass on so the (newcomers) know what's going on," she added.
The retirement didn't come as shock to her co-workers, she said, as she told them in January she was going to retire at some point this year. Her first thought was in October to coincide with her 60th birthday, but she decided to hang on for one more month.
As for what's next, Sandy and Harry (who is already semi-retired) will spend more time with the family, as one child, Jennifer, lives in California and the other one, Jon, lives in Illinois. Between the two, they've given Sandy and Harry five grandchildren.
She said there'll be more time for hobbies such as sewing, crocheting and traveling. Furthermore, she added it wouldn't be surprising if the couple takes up residence in a western state like Colorado or Wyoming, for example. Sandy explained the two of them have vacationed in every state west of the Mississippi and became big fans of the western landscape.