|Hesslers retire after 31 years of service to the community|
|December 23, 2010 Dawn Bowen Courtsey Photo|
Pictured are Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Bill Hessler and his wife, Mary-Ann Hessler, owner of Ready Steps Learning Center in Gering. Both are retiring this month after serving the community for more
Longtime Gering residents Bill and Mary-Ann Hessler are starting a new chapter in their lives in the same way they have done so many other things – together.
Mary Ann is retiring as the owner of and an educator at Ready Steps Learning Center, the Gering business she began in 1979. Bill is saying goodbye to the Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Department where he has served since 1979, retiring as the chief deputy.
“We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to be less busy and have more time to do the things we want to do,” Mary-Ann said during a well-attended celebration held Thursday at the VFW Post in Gering to celebrate Bill’s retirement and honor outgoing Sheriff Jim Lawson.
Mary-Ann said she and her husband are looking forward to relaxing and traveling. She said she is happy they are both retiring at a time in their lives when they have good health and the ability to do the things they love to do.
“I love to read and we want to travel and we want to see the world,” she said. “I have a friend who told me there’s a very small window of opportunity and we both have our health and we want to use and enjoy this time. My parents didn’t do that and they should have.”
The Hesslers have spent their lives in the area, working, raising children and giving back to the community where they have deep roots and lasting connections. Together the Hesslers started the youth group at Christ the King Catholic Church where they continue to be active members. They love to square dance and are members of the Pairs-n-Half Pairs Square Dance Club.
Bill graduated from Gering High School and she was a Bayard High School graduate. They married on Feb. 14, 1965 and have three adult children – Kimberly Soule of Gering, Sherri Anderson of Wheatland, Wyo., and Brian Hessler of Hastings, Neb. They have nine grandchildren.
Bill, who had a history of military service with the National Guard, joined the Gering Police Department in 1966. He served as a Gering police officer for 10 years, filling positions that included training officer, shift commander and arson investigator. In 1973 he was named Outstanding Young Local Law Enforcement Officer.
Bill is a past president of the Gering Volunteer Fire Department where he served from 1968 to 1975. He served on the Gering City Council from 1976 to 1987 and was council president in 1985.
During the 31 years he served at the Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Office, Bill had the ranks of corporal, sergeant, lieutenant and chief deputy – the position he has held for eight years.
Mary-Ann received her Associate’s Degree in Elementary Education in 1964 and began her teaching career at Lake Alice School. She taught at Cedar Canyon School for seven years, taking time off to raise her two daughters and earn her Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education from Chadron State College.
She served in the Fireman’s Auxiliary from 1968 to 1975 and was named president of the organization in 1974. Mary-Ann also served as co-chairman of the Scottsbluff/Gering Community Improvement Council.
When Mary-Ann opened Ready Steps Learning Center (then Ready Steps Preschool), she was the only licensed and accredited preschool director in the Panhandle of Nebraska.
The Hesslers have said they have big plans in their retirement that include a cruise to the Mexican Riviera in early 2011 and “lots of traveling around the world.”
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