By Deb Everts
An amazing woman has kept business rolling for the town of Great Valley for well over three decades. Supervisor Dan Brown says her work ethic is unsurpassed. She makes everyone better at the office and the town is absolutely better because of her.
Hildagarde Krause, who has been the supervisor’s clerk for over 30 years, just celebrated her 88th birthday March 9. No matter what the weather might be, she shows up to work every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Brown said even the recent bitterly cold temperatures did not keep her away. He said when the town clerk’s office closed due to the weather and they tried to contact her to stay home, Krause had already showed up at work.
“The knob was actually froze shut, so she couldn’t get in. After I figured this all out, I called her at home and asked her why she went down there to work that day,” Brown explained. “She said, ‘Because that’s my job’ … Nothing stops, her whether it’s hip surgery, knee surgery or anything.”
Brown said he finds Krause completely fascinating because she has faithfully carried out her duties over all these years. He said everybody at the town offices relies on her. It’s not just his office — it’s the clerk’s office, the court office and the highway department.
“She’s the sun and we all go around the sun,” Brown said.
Krause still does everything long-form and does record keeping by hand. Brown gave an example of her diligence and said when the office went through a state audit a few years ago, an official came and asked where their records were. He said when Krause started producing a number of big ledgers, the lady asked if that was how she did everything and she replied “yes.” He said the lady was in disbelief.
In addition to bookkeeping, Krause is also the budget officer and does payroll — and she does it on an electric typewriter from the 1970s. To make it easier for her, Brown said he suggested they look into a payroll service.
“When the payroll lady came down for a meeting to discuss what we needed and could expect, her first question was, ‘How do you do the payroll now?’ Hildagarde said, ‘I do it.’ The lady asked, ‘How do you do it?’ Hildagarde said, ‘On my electric typewriter. I’ve had it for 40 years,’” Brown said. “The lady was shocked and looked at me, and I said, ‘Welcome to 1971. When you crossed the tracks, you didn’t know it, but you crossed into a time warp.’”
Brown said when he took office, there was an old Compaq computer in Krause’s office that was used for his first six months as a Post-It note holder — literally. Anytime he wanted to leave her a note, he would stick it on the screen.
“I noticed she wasn’t using it, so I finally asked her one day if she wanted the computer in there,” he said. “She said she had never turned it on, nor did she have any idea how long it had been here. The town board said she needed one. The computer arrived there in the ‘90s and it weighed a ton. It’s gone now and she has a lot more room on her desk.”
According to Brown, Krause is still going strong, but plans to finally retire next year. He said she tried to retire this year and announced it to him in January. In an effort to stall her a bit, he explained the process of replacing her and said it would probably take 10 months to find a replacement for her.
“There’s no replacing her and none of us want her to go,” he said. “I told her I wouldn’t even know how to tell people what her job duties are so, if she was serious, she needed to put together a list of her duties that we can go through.”
Brown said he also told her by the time the town picks a new person and she can start training them, it’ll be into October, so it made more sense to wait until next year. Three months into 2019 and Hildagarde is still Brown’s clerk.
“This is my 14th year as supervisor and Hildagarde has been there forever,” he said. “I tell her all the time that I’m the fifth supervisor she’s trained.”
Before Brown took office, Roy Arena, Tony Burrelli, Harold Gerwitz and Krause’s late husband, Charles — who had the position two different times and moved on to being a county legislator — were the town supervisors.
Krause said she started doing the books in 1976 when her husband became town supervisor, with one break when Dorothy Gerwitz did the books during her husband’s term.
“Charlie was the town supervisor for 18 years, which was nine terms. He’s the one that made me work for the town,” Krause said. “I love working here because I love working with the people.”
Brown said Krause is a marvelous woman and he can’t say enough good things about her. He said for someone to keep doing this at 88 years old — the changes she’s seen in the town and the different things that have happened over the years — she’s just a wealth of knowledge and wonderful to be around.