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She’s the face of the place: After long, varied career connecting Valley citizens, Jeanette Busby ready to retire | Photos
For 15 years, Jeanette Busby has been, more often than not, the first face when you walked in the doors of Encompass. That means that the Snoqualmie woman is always prepared for anything—from excited children to families in crisis.
“You never knew what need was going to come,” said Busby, Encompass’ office manager and receptionist.
She’s slated to retire Thursday, Dec. 20, after a career that’s taken her to Valley institutions as varied at the Snoqualmie Valley School District, the Snoqualmie Valley Record and the former Milk Barn grocery store.
Encompass, formerly known as Children’s Services of Sno-Valley, offers early learning, pediatric therapy, parent education and community activity programs. For decades, it’s also had a strong family support program, today run out of a satellite campus in the city of North Bend. Word gets around about the support that families can find.
Most mornings, Busby greets smiling students and their families. Today, as children file past her desk, she greets them, and asks how their week is going. Her young visitors give plenty of side glances to a nearby Christmas tree.
“It’s hard to pass those toys,” says Busby.
It’s not always smiles, though. In this job, Busby sometimes encounters people with serious needs—no housing, no food, domestic violence, or children who had been taken away by the state.
“You just start calling around and seeing what you can do for them,” says Busby.
“They heard this was the place,” she added. “I would try and do my best... We stepped up to the plate we needed.”
“That need, it’s never going to end,” she continued. “Encompass is such an important part of the community. And the Valley knows it.”
Face of Encompass
Arlene Lousberg had a year under her belt at Children’s Services when Busby came on board in 1998.
Lousberg still remembers, in awe, how Busby ran the front office for the first six months without a desk to call her own.
“She is such a smooth person,” says Lousberg, a former office manager who is now the organization’s data coordinator.
To Lousberg, Busby is the heart of Encompass.
“She keeps us scheduled and on track… She fills every day to the max,” she said. “She is the face that everybody knows. I think it’s gonna take two people to replace her.”
In her many roles at Encompass, Busby taps a lifetime of Valley connections to handle the day’s duties. And she never knows quite what a dat will bring. As a facilities manager, she’s confronted everything from moles to clogged pipes.
One evening, she was confronted by jam in the septic system. Trying to track down the septic serviceman, Busby couldn’t find him, but she did manage to call a family member and arranged to have him come as soon as possible.
“Bless his heart, he made it here,” said Busby, who held a flashlight so the serviceman could find the place in the dark.
“This is the kind of stuff they’re going to miss when she leaves,” Lousberg said. “If there’s a problem, she knows everybody in the Valley who can get it fixed, and probably for half the price. She knows where the plumber is at six o’clock.”
n a letter to all staff announcing her departure, Gregory Malcolm, Encompass executive director, calls Busby "the best face of Encompass imaginable."
"She has been such a positive force.. that for many people, Jeanette's sparkling personality simply is Encompass."
Busby's offered to help in the transition to a replacement. She won't be a stranger to Encompass, stated Malcolm.
Busby's skills with her well-filled Rolodex in part come from her lifetime of work in the Valley, in and out of the home.
As a teen, she worked at the now-demolished Nelems Hospital near Snoqualmie.
"That was the day when you could work in deliveries, emergency and on the floor," she said. "Sometimes, at night, it was just an RN and myself. They trained you for everything."
"I always wanted to be a nurse, but I didn't think I was smart enough, and was afraid I would kill somebody," Busby added. "So I thought working with kids would be safer."
She married into the big Busby family of the Valley. With husband Pat, she's been married 46 years. They raised three boys, Jason, Cory and Zach.
As a mom, Busby was part of a tight knit group of Valley mothers. She and helped plenty of other families' children get off to school, and never paid for a babysitter.
"We always just shared—sleepovers, whatever," Busby said.
For her, the time to enter the workforce came in the 1980s, when her boys were teenagers.
One morning, the boys were getting ready for a camping trip, and the kitchen table was a busy hive of activity.
"I've got to get a part-time job," decided Busby. "Just to get some space."
She took a position as a deli operator and cashier at the Milk Barn, the small grocery store at Meadowbrook. Later, she worked for a friend's furniture store, and as a special education assistant with the Snoqualmie Valley School District.
In the 1980s, she took a job as advertising manager with the Snoqualmie Valley Record.
"That was a fun one. I loved that job." She remembers driving the Record's big tav van through high water to Carnation: "That paper must always go through."
Busby dressed up on the job every Halloween.
"One year, I had a complete pig outfit—the nose, the whole thing. Down in Fall City, Laurie and Kevin (Hauglie) still have a picture of me."
Around the same time, she also remembers encouraging a young Bart Kelley to go into the printing business.
It's a different Valley today than when Jeanette entered the work force.
"The Valley has grown so much," she says. "I miss the openness—space, and really knowing everybody. You could not go anywhere without running into somebody. It took forever to go home. People had more time. You took time for family and friends."
Most of Busby's jobs were always about finding her space and getting out there with the public: "The public is my favorite."
Busby is a little apprehensive about retirement, but figures that friends and family will help keep her busy.
The main reason for her departure is to spend more time with her father, John Meyers, who is 91.
"I need to start taking care of myself, so I can take care of him," Busby says.
Jeanette's big day
The mayors of North Bend and Snoqualmie have proclaimed Thursday, Dec. 20, as Jeanette Busby Appreciation Day. It's Jeannete's last day of work.
She also received a 2012 Excellence in Inspirational Giving award from the Encompass board.
On her special day, all are welcome at the Encompass Main Campus for a reception from 1 to 3 p.m. to greet Jeanette. Refreshments will be served.
Always a communicator: Jeanette Busby, in 1951 and in 1912.
Encompass Executive Director Gregory Malcolm presents Jeanette Busby with a 2012 Excellence in Inspirational Giving award on December 3. Her husband, Pat, looks on at left.