Thelma Reetz was one of the many progressive leaders that were involved in getting services for people with intellectual disabilities started in Waukon, Iowa in 1986. She is now living at Good Samaritan in Waukon, Iowa.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?
“I do not remember…. but I can share that the best thing I ever did was to travel away from home when I was young. When I returned home, I had made many new friends and had many new experiences to bring back with me. I have friends from one coast to the other.”
How about the worst?
The worst advice was when one of the residents told us not to build a home for people with intellectual disabilities in their neighborhood. They told us… “No, don’t build that here.” The home was built eventually, and it turned out very well, so that was a rather shortsighted view at the time.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I was not sure of the opportunities that were out there when I was younger; but my destiny found me because of the good scores I earned on a typing test that I took in Ames, Iowa.
What did you do?
I worked for the FBI in Washington D.C. as a clerk/typist.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you?
A guide to get me back home! Plenty to eat and drink! My dog – Jente’
Try to describe yourself in one sentence.
I have been rather independent most of my life, but it is always nice to have others around!
If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Name one thing you could never live without.
Jente’ my faithful dog companion. The name Jente’ means “girl” in Nordic.
Tell us about….
I will never forget what I was doing when we heard the news about Pearl Harbor. I was sight-seeing in Washington D.C. with a group of co-workers near the White House, when someone came up to us to let us know of Pearl Harbor. We all went home right away because we knew we would be called in to work, and we were! And, when asked about J.Edgar Hoover, Thelma did say that she remembers that while he would always say hello; he was a very busy man.