It takes a special person to operate a day care business, even more so if the business lasted 36 years. Cathy Boelter began her day care in Clarkfield in 1981, and when she recently announced that she was retiring, her family and current day care families organized a surprise retirement party in her honor. The party was held on June 12 at North Park in Clarkfield, and was attended by many current and past families. Boelter, who thought her husband was taking her out to eat for their anniversary, was totally surprised and visibly touched by the outpouring of well wishers.

Boelter’s daughter, Emily Dirksen, contacted many of her mom’s former day care families and invited them to the party. Dirksen said, “Everyone had super nice things to say about my mom, comparing her and my dad to a second set of grandparents, knowing their kids were being treated as their own, and knowing that there was always more than enough love and caring to go around. When asked if she had any favorite memories of her many years as a day care provider, Boelter said, “There are too many to pick out just a few. I wish I would have written them down as the years went by to look at later, but at the time, it seemed that I would remember them forever.”

There were many happy memories such as a baby’s first words or first steps, and many milestones were witnessed by Boelter that any parent would by proud of. Also, as any parent knows, there were trying times as well: terrible twos, tantrums, and kids who were determined to get their way. Growing up in a day care home was special for Dirksen. She mentioned that she used to joke about having to be moved out for 10 years before she would even think about having kids.

“Looking back now,” she said, “I realize that growing up in a day care home is one of the best ways to grow up. Always having playmates and the benefit of having my own toys as well as the day care toys wasn’t too bad, either. I was also fortunate that my kids could go to day care with their grandma, too!” Although Boelter will miss her “kids,” she is looking forward to her retirement. “I am ready to move on the next chapter of my life and being able to follow my grandkids in their activities, as well as simply enjoying the freedom of not being tied down to the house,” she said.

Dirksen mentioned that her mom used to say that she wasn’t qualified to do any other profession. “She didn’t just choose to be a day care provider, she was made to be one. I feel that God made her to have more than enough love to go around, which was most obviously displayed in her actions towards her kids each and every day,” she said.