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  • Chaska Historical Society

Volunteer Spotlight - Jill Metzger

By Kelly O'Neill


Jill Metzger

Jill is a Chaska native, as was her mother. Her father was one of nine children from Victoria. Jill has a sister two years older, and another four years younger. Her father had a candy route in the 1940's for Curtiss Candy Company of Chicago, was part owner in a Victoria grocery store, and later bought and ran a grocery store in St. Bonifacius. Her parents purchased their first home in Chaska in the west side neighborhood affectionately referred to then as 'Diaper Alley.' First time home buyers, many after returning home from the military post war, built basement homes there, with the idea they'd add a first and second story in time. They were young families with young children, thus the neighborhood nickname. It was a dream location for young girls of babysitting age who could easily make enough money to afford a new swimsuit for their daily swimming in the summer with friends at the Clayhole (now Fireman's Park). Jill attended Chaska kindergarten, then attended Guardian Angels school through 8th grade and Chaska High School. After graduation she attended Mankato State College for a year, but was sure she didn't wish to be a nurse, and was uncertain about teaching. (In those days those were college career choices for young women.) After four years working in downtown Minneapolis, in 1966 she began a secretary job with Control Data in Bloomington. The company was young and growing like a weed. She liked and was good at her work, becoming an Administrative Assistant, then Executive Administrative Assistant to senior company executives. She had a very good career there with Control Data (later to become Ceridian) and retired after 38 years in 2005. Jill met and married her husband, Jack, who grew up on a farm in North Dakota and who worked for a division of Lakeland Engineering Company. He retired a couple years before Jill. They have one son who works for Dell Computing, an on-site contractor for the USPS. He and his wife live in Eden Prairie with their two 7 year old daughters. Jill was looking to do volunteer work after retiring in 2005, and began volunteering at the Chaska History Center that year. She began with transcribing cassette taped interviews the Center had of some town elders -- her contribution being putting to paper, so to speak, their thoughts in order to preserve for the History Center the interesting experiences in their lives. Tracy Swanson was the President of the Center at the time she started doing this, and she arranged to borrow a transcription machine from the Courthouse for Jill to use. One of the most meaningful interviews Jill transcribed, and one of the first ones, was of Dr. Schimelpfenig, beloved by so many Chaskans for so many years. He delivered Jill into this world, as he delivered so many others in Chaska from that era. Jill loved listening to his voice on the tapes as he described his early years as a doctor in Chaska, including recounting some of his house calls -- some in the middle of the night and getting stuck on muddy country roads. Another memorable person interviewed, with such vivid Chaska memories that were so fun and interesting to hear, was Jerry Lubansky, who still volunteers at the History Center. Jerry has such a great and easy way of relating how Chaska was when he was a kid. Jill transcribed lots of interviews of Chaska folks, including past political figures, and lately has transcribed the interviews of leaders of existing or former companies that began in Jonathan. Another favorite was the interview of Tracy Swanson, born and raised in Chaska of course, who shared such interesting things about how Chaska was at different stages of her life here. Also, Lisa Oberski some years ago asked Jill to help out in the artifacts room, working alongside Sue Born, sadly now deceased, and Yvonne Welter. Her job was to physically number or tag each item with the number recorded and assigned by Sue or Yvonne. The items themselves were brought to or donated to the Center by various Chaska residents or families and are now stored at the Center. One of the most interesting items she remembers handling was the front door knob/latch for the original Chaska Courthouse. Jill thought, wow, think how many hands have touched this latch from a hundred years ago! One other volunteer activity she did was to re-key Volume II (1900-1950) of the original Chaska history books that were called, "CHASKA, A Minnesota River City." The reason they needed this done was so that Volume I and II of these original books, which were manually typed and put together, could be included in the new, hard cover, bound versions of them. The 1900 to 1950 period of history in the book she retyped was particularly interesting to Jill because it included her parents' era and her early growing up years. Jill remains our transcriber yet today thankfully. Besides her volunteer work with the Chaska History Center, Jill leads a busy schedule in retirement with her son's family, regular monthly lunches with her sisters, her high school friends, friends from Control Data/ Ceridian days, and loves reading and family time. We are so very lucky and grateful to have Jill on our team!

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