For the first time in over 16 years, Peggy Ragle will not be walking through the office door of The Oakdale Leader on Monday, June 28. Instead, she might be enjoying a cup of coffee with her husband Ron as she prepares for the next chapter of her life.
On Friday, June 26 the staff of the Leader will say goodnight to Peggy as a fellow employee for one last time, as she enters into the world of retirement.
When Ragle first started at the Leader over 16 years ago, much was different. The newspaper was 50 cents a copy, a subscription was $20 per year and stoplights through town were few and far between.
The circulation manager first became employed at the newspaper after being approached by a friend.
“I started doing grocery ads,” Ragle said of her first position in the Leader office, explaining her work pulling photos and pasting them to grocery ads.
“At that time our editorial staff was using Apple 2 plus computers,” she added.
A few months later, the Circulation Manager position became available and Ragle was asked to fill it.
“There were no manuals, no nothing,” she said of her introduction to the position. “Just get the labels out and I’ve never missed getting them out since.”
The ‘labels’ Ragle speaks of are the key piece to getting the paper from the pressroom to the subscriber each week. Address labels are printed in the Oakdale office each week and then sent to the pressroom to be placed on the papers.
When Ragle first started ‘getting the labels out,’ they traveled a short distance. At that time the pressroom for the three publications — Oakdale Leader, Riverbank News and Escalon Times — was located in Oakdale on Hi-Tech Parkway. Currently the newspapers are printed out of the company’s pressroom in Manteca.
“It was much more hands on for the Circulation Manager job then,” she stated. “Much more hands on with the press and mail rooms than it is now.”
The pressroom relocation is just one of the many changes that Ragle has watched sitting at her desk as Circulation Manager. During her 16-year tenure the paper has had two different owners, four General Managers and three Editors.
“The buy out by Morris (the current owner of the paper) and the personnel change,” Ragle said. “That was probably the toughest time I went through.
“It was a family to work with, more or less, especially in the beginning. I’ve worked with a lot of nice people and have made some lifelong friends.”
As Ragle mentions the change of ownership, she also makes a point of stating the positive she has seen in the change.
“The changes I think have all been necessary and mostly have been good,” she said. “I just think we need to keep that hometown feel.
“I understand the need to bring new readership, but not alienate the older readers. With the limited amount of reporters we have, I think we are doing a good job.”
The physical renovation of the interior office has also been a notable change during Ragle’s tenure. While Ragle was appointed to the Circulation Manager position 16 years ago, it took 12 years before she was actually given an office.
“I have done everything in this office, except editorial,” she added of her newspaper cross training.
While the retiree is excited to get on with retirement and hit the open road with her husband Ron to travel cross country, there will be things she will miss.
“The conversations with subscribers are the most entertaining,” she said. “I have felt as if I have friends that I haven’t seen. Many of them call on a regular basis.”
Ragle’s 16 years of talking with customers brings with it a host of stories.
One story, however, stands out above all others.
“The funniest was the one subscriber in Colorado who called and said she had to cancel her subscription because her recycling plant had burned down and she did not know what she would do with her paper,” Ragle stated with a chuckle.
As she reflects on the days that have passed, Ragle cannot help but also look ahead to the path she has yet to travel.
“Spending time with Ron and traveling and working on genealogy,” she said of future plans. “Maybe doing some volunteer work and rejoining some of the clubs I used to participate in.
“I will miss the day-to-day routine. I’ll just have to establish a new one.”
The entire staff of the Oakdale Leader, Riverbank News and Escalon Times wishes to express their gratitude to Peggy. You have been a delight to work with. We will all miss you and wish you the best in your retirement.
It is almost unfathomable to think that your retirement day is upon us. We arrived here at The Oakdale Leader around the same time — I might have a few months’ seniority on you, but not much.
The memories we have together over the years are ones I will always look back on with fondness. Such as a July 4 picnic at your home where I churned homemade ice cream with the two tow-headed young boys who would a few months later become my stepsons … hearing stories of your grandchildren and their accomplishments in school … countless trips across the street from our office once they were savvy enough to locate a well known coffee shop within walking distance …
We have been together since we were a small, family-owned operation, gone through staff changes, consolidations, new ownership, entry into the ‘corporate’ world and having ‘sister’ newspapers in several other California communities and all the while, people have known they can count on us to be here for this community. You have been a big part of that continuity for people, from your early work in advertising to eventually moving on to take over the subscriptions. Customer service is huge in our business and you have always provided that with a smile and the knowledge needed to get the job done right.
I won’t forget the times we sat together at the Oakdale Chocolate Festival or the Escalon Park Fete manning the subscription table, whether we had melting chocolate to hand out in triple digit heat in Oakdale or had prizes to give away if people ‘landed the paper on the porch’ in one of the games we set up to bring in some business.
I’ve enjoyed the chance to hear your husband Ron perform his music and have come to appreciate his sly wit. It’s those quiet ones you have to watch out for!
You have been a constant supporter of my daughter through the years, from her elementary school jog-a-thons to her competitive soccer fundraisers. When I look back, it’s almost incredible to think that when we first met, she wasn’t even born yet … now she’s headed to high school and bugging me about when she can start practicing her driving. At least you’ll be far from California when she takes the wheel!
I wish only the best for you and Ron in retirement and can’t wait to hear about the new adventures you have in travel and ‘life after work’ even though it won’t be the same here without you. Guess John Branch and I are the ‘oldies but goodies’ now. Well, he’s the ‘oldie’ and I’m the ‘goodie’ but don’t tell him I said that.
All the best, Peggy. I will miss you, so keep in touch!
Editor, Oakdale Leader
Hard to believe the day you have spoken of for the better part of the past year has finally arrived.
So many milestones we have shared, since I first made my way through this newspaper’s door over eight years ago. There you sat — you and Melody — smiling, friendly and ready to help a city slicker young woman who had landed in a small town and had yet to learn how to manage through small town politics.
So many laughs, a handful of tears and a lifetime of memories we have shared in this old brick building.
I still remember the tearful smile you shared with me, when we learned I was pregnant with my son and the fearful hug we shared when we learned you had cancer. But it all worked out, didn’t it Peggy? All is good now and well — life is as it should be.
We will miss your smile and speak of you for years to come. You know we’re good for that around this place. Just know, the words will all be filled with thoughtfulness and chuckles, because that is what you have left us with.
I realize this letter speaks little of our working relationship. Perhaps that is because I’ve never really felt that we shared a ‘work’ relationship. In all honesty, I guess I’ve just always felt you were a friend, I just happened to work with.
So, my friend, my wish for you now is that this next chapter of life brings you and Ron all that you are so deserving of. You have both made many a sacrifice for many you love and now it is your turn. Take it all in, don’t miss a minute and remember … every once in a while take in the sights as if you are seeing it all for the first time.
Looking forward to future lunch dates and pesky phone calls you’ve been promising … I’m ready for ya.
All my best,
Wishing Peggy Well,
I served with Peggy on the Cowboy Museum Board of Directors from 1998-2000. She was truly dedicated to our mission and continues to be a devoted supporter today. Peggy’s heart is as big and warm as her smile and she always approached every task with a “let’s do it” attitude. Her motto was always: ‘you get out of it, what you put into it, so let’s get started!’
Best wishes on your ride into retirement, Peg.
Director, Oakdale Cowboy Museum
Working with you these past years has been so great! You have a generous heart and a gentle demeanor that draws people like honey. The many friends you have made here will miss your ready smile and sweet mothering. I wish you and Ron all the best in your coming adventures in retirement.
As your retirement from the Oakdale Leader rapidly approaches here are my thoughts …
As we worked together for almost twenty years we were two people who became very good friends. Of course our first mission was to do the business of the company and we dealt with many issues and resolutions over those years.
Usually at a work place where we spend a great deal of our time we become family.
And we did. We enjoyed each other’s company (at least I enjoyed yours), talked about life, supported each other in family and health issues, laughed and cried together.
As far as work was concerned you were reliable, responsible, caring and committed — doing your best for the customers and your fellow employees. Your prior business experience as the owner of a family run company was evident in your ability to meet the public and work professionally. Thanks for the willing and supportive assistance you always gave to me.
Over the years I often (kiddingly) addressed correspondence to you as “Peg of My Heart,” a song lifted from an historic American Broadway musical of that name.
It is your life outside of your work that I really want to salute — for it is here that I really know your heart, Peg. You have been a faithful volunteer in many community events and organizations, especially in the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce. We also worked together on trying to establish the Oakdale Blue Grass Festival — and though it didn’t take off we at least raised some money for school music programs with the preliminary events. You have been a faithful organizer and campaigner for the development of the Oakdale Community Aquatic Therapy Foundation Pool which now may be built without your further assistance if you and Ron fulfill your dream of pulling up stakes and heading to the Mid-West.
So — to that dream — Bill and I wish you and Ron “Good Luck and God Speed.” I’ll miss lunches with you and Sam; seeing you at our investment group dinners, and just knowing you’re around supporting community events. My friendship with you is special to me, so as the song goes, “Peg of My Heart, I love you, we’ll never part, I love you, wherever you roam, I love you …” and on. We will be in touch!
Your friend and former co-worker,
It has been a pleasure working with you these last three years. You have a wonderful spirit and a big heart. I pray that you and Ron are blessed with a wonderful retirement, full of new adventures and old friends. You will be missed!
I am so very happy for you on your retirement. Thank you very much for all the support and friendship you have given me and my family these past five years. I wish you and Ron many, many happy years. Enjoy your travels and I expect to see a post card every now and then. Happy Trails Peggy!