WILLMAR -- With his wife, Barb, standing by his side, Kandiyohi County Auditor Sam Modderman shook a long line of hands Friday during a retirement party that celebrated his 40 years of working in the auditor's office, including 25 years as an elected official.
Words of praise flowed easily for those who spoke about Modderman during a short program.
"You couldn't ask for a better boss," said Mark Thompson, who has been appointed to fill the remaining two years in Modderman's term. "He's one cool guy," said Thompson, explaining, with a laugh, that Modderman liked to keep the temperature in his office a little warmer than most.
Thompson said Modderman has offered to do anything it takes to help make the transition smooth. "It shows what kind of a man he is -- kind and considerate," said Thompson.
"The county is blessed to have had you for so many years," he said.
Sherry Bratsch, who works in the auditor's office, said Modderman was more than a boss. She said he was a mentor and a friend who displayed honesty, integrity and a "Christian conviction."
Having started his career using typewriters and carbon paper and advancing to computers, Bratsch said Modderman is a "wealth of knowledge" that will be missed.
"We love you. We miss you and we wish you all the best," Bratsch said.
Besides Kandiyohi County staff and elected officials, there were county auditors from at least six neighboring counties who offered best wishes to Modderman.
Swift County Auditor Byron Giese, who is retiring next year, was one of the first in line to shake Modderman's hand.
In a short speech, Modderman praised his staff for keeping the office functioning and gave kudos to the other county department heads for a good working relationship that he said is unique to Kandiyohi County. He also thanked the past and present county boards for their support and to the citizens for "allowing me this privilege of serving as your auditor for 25 years."
Pausing to catch his emotions, Modderman locked eyes with his wife and thanked her for letting him pursue his "passion" for his job with the county. It was a passion that obviously meant sacrifices for his wife and family.
"Thank you for your years of dedicated service to the county," said County Board Chairman Richard Larson.