Sandy Reiber leaves legacy of energy, enthusiasm

For the past 22 years, callers to BGSU Firelands have been greeted by the friendly voice of receptionist and switchboard operator Sandy Reiber. But after Sept. 30, a new person will be connecting them to their parties. Reiber is retiring.

Reiber has seen a lot of change during her time at Firelands. “I’ve been through five deans and three remodelings,” she said. Among her favorites of the deans have been Dr. Robert DeBard, who, “when things would get bad in the back office would come out and chat,” and current dean Dr. Jim Smith. “He’s just so personable,” she said of Smith, adding humorously, “though he’s fired me lots of times.”

“What a wonderful person she is,” said Smith. “She always has a warm smile and is always enthusiastic and energized about telling the story of the college.”

Describing her as an “upbeat, positive person,” he added that Reiber has led Relays for Life for the Firelands campus to raise money for cancer research and survivors.

“We will definitely miss her,” Smith said.

Reiber said she will miss the interaction with students, many of whom she has developed friendships with. “We have a lot of nontraditional students and our students are of very diverse ages, as well as our faculty and staff. They often stop by to talk and I try to encourage them.”

Over her years at Firelands, she has seen the construction of the Cedar Point Center, Firelands’ high-tech learning and community center, and the development of the arboretum and the Deering Terrace, which extends out over the lake. “We’re in such a beautiful area,” she said, noting that she and other staff members take advantage of it by walking around the lake at lunchtime.

“It will be hard to leave because I have so many friends here,” she said.

Her plans for retirement include travel and spending time with her four children in Florida and Georgia and at the family vacation home in North Carolina. Plus, she will finally get to participate in a longtime interest of hers—the theatre. Reiber said she looks forward to playing minor characters in Huron Playhouse productions.

A special talent for Christmas
But come November, she will be busy starting the elaborate Christmas decorations she puts up every year throughout her home. Those decorations have earned her a place in this year’s edition of Country Woman Christmas 2005, a hardcover book published by Country Woman magazine.

“Being in the book was such a thrill for me,” she said. It came as quite a surprise, however, as she had no idea the publisher had planned to include her. They first became aware of Reiber’s special talent for Christmas decorating when she entered a contest sponsored by the magazine in 2001 and submitted photos of some of her designs.

Though much to her disappointment she didn’t win, unbeknown to her, the editors kept the photos on file because they had bigger plans for Reiber. Ann Kaiser, editor of the magazine, saw Reiber’s work as a “strong feature” and eventually placed it at the front of the 114-page book.

Reiber provided descriptions and “special memories” about the decorations, as each has a connection to her family. There are city and country villages, woodland scenes, garlands and angels, a special sports corner for her husband, Bob, a Raggedy Ann and Andy mantel display and a wreath made by her daughter Traci Thompson. Then there is the huge collection of Santas purchased on the family’s travels.

Reiber said she inherited the Christmas decorating tradition from her mother, “who always decorated every inch of our house when I was growing up. So she was my inspiration.”

“This has been such an exciting year for me, with retiring and being in the book,” she said. Those wishing to purchase a copy of Country Woman Christmas 2005 may contact Reiber at 2-0771. But hurry—by the end of the month she will be enjoying retirement.

September 5, 2005