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Blackduck's Good Samaritan administrator to retire

Advisory board members Bud Olson and Kurt Cease visit with Good Samaritan Society administrator Maryann Hanson who will retire Jan. 3. An open house will be held that day with an informal ceremony at 6 p.m.

Her first project was the construction of a walk-in cooler. It would save kitchen staff from hiking up and down stairs to bring food to the kitchen. Like other jobs in the past 11 years, it's been paid for while she's moved on to the next task on her list.

"Her" is Maryann Hanson, administrator of the Good Samaritan Society's nursing home and senior living facility in Blackduck. It's a job she will leave on Jan. 3 with a mixture of pride and regret. Pride in all that's happened since she came in April, 1999 and regret at leaving the friends and associations she's made in those years.

Retiring won't mean leaving Blackduck, though. She and her husband will remain in Blackduck, traveling to see states they haven't yet visited, places they haven't yet seen, people they haven't yet met.

It's clear from even a brief visit that people are the essence of her life.

Working together with her staff, the auxiliary, the advisory board and everyone else in the community is an obvious priority. She establishes a fast pace and with a good natured word of encouragement, a challenge to do a little more, a meaningful expression of thanks for jobs well done, she moves quickly on to the next item on her own list of things that need doing.

A key staff member is Kim Marty whose admiration is based on her close working relationship. Of Hanson she said, "Maryann is as honest as the day is long. You always know where you stand and she knows how to get all of us to get the things done that need to be done."

Advisory board members Kurt Cease and Orville 'Bud' Olson agreed. Over a cup of coffee in the newer senior housing center, they reminisced about the financial and related difficulties encountered in that undertaking. Every step of the way, they agreed, Hanson was there "egging us on, smiling, making sure no one let down."

Hanson came here from Omaha, with a background including a degree in business and a Master's degree in Health Care Administration.

When she retires, there'll be an open house. The public is invited and will be particularly welcome at a 6 p.m. informal ceremony where some of her development projects will be highlighted.

Among them are a number of seemingly mundane items like improved lighting and air conditioning in the halls, a new roof and carpeting, addition of a beauty and barber shop, the change to private rooms throughout, the new chapel, partnering with the Clearbrook facility to provide home care, adding out-patient therapy, even a new bus.

"Since 1999," Hanson said, "everything has been planned to make it like a home instead of like an institution. Of course," she adds, "first we had to pay off our $200,000 debt -- and we did."

The Good Samaritan Society operates nearly 250 facilities in 24 states. Hanson is proud to point out that Blackduck's is rated number one in service to its residents.