If you’ve renewed a driver’s license, got new plates or license tabs or needed a fishing or hunting license at the Wright County Government Center over the last 35 years, you’ve probably met Becky Aanerud. She announced her retirement following the successful rollout of the MNDRIVE licensing software in November, and at the Dec. 29 meeting of the Wright County Board of Commissioners, Aanerud was honored with a plaque commemorating her 35 years of service to the residents of Wright County.
Fighting back tears at times, Aanerud thanked the numerous people who crossed her path at the License Bureau in downtown Buffalo, saying that many county employees over the years have become like an extended family.
“I’ve called this courthouse my second home for 35 years,” Aanerud said. “I’ve been here through the years of my marriage, the loss of our boys and the arrival of our girls. I’ve had great times. I’ve had hard times. I’ve made friends that will last forever and I’ve been blessed with a great team of co-workers and staff that are the absolute best.”
In the summer of 1984, Aanerud was a temp employee for just six weeks, taking county board minutes while the office secretary was on an extended vacation. It was the impression that she made in that short period of time that got her recommended to be hired by the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office in the License Bureau when a job came open. As with most aspects of life, 35 years ago, the computer age had not yet arrived to Wright County and paperwork was done the old-fashioned way…the really old-fashioned way.
“Everything was written out by hand,” Aanerud said. “We used carbon paper, Wite-Out and typewriters.”
Her primary work responsibility initially was processing fish and game licenses and she worked her way up through the ranks before becoming License Bureau supervisor in 2009.
Aanerud shared some of the memories of her career with the county board, including that she has collected $2 bills when they would come through the office for more than 25 years, processing a fishing license for Minnesota Twins legend Kirby Puckett, processing a wedding license for a man who had already been married 10 times, surviving two remodeling projects at the Government Center and working through challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic this year.
Through it all, Aanerud has never lost her infectious laugh or her room-brightening smile. Even when there was frustration – the MnLARS software disaster was at the top of that list – she never let a rude customer or a heavy workload dim her enthusiasm. She came to work every day with a positive attitude and ready to assist county residents with the requests that brought them to the License Bureau.
Along the way, she made many friendships that have remained strong throughout the years because she spent as much time with them as anyone in her life and they have become family members to her.
“Someone once told me years ago that Wright County employees take care of each other,” Aanerud said. “This is true. We are one big dysfunctional family.”
Aanerud thanked those she has worked with over the last 35 years, including two of her sisters who also work for Wright County, saying, “The break room will never be the same without the three Christenson girls.” She will look forward to not being awakened every weekday morning by her alarm clock, reading books that have gathered dust unread in her book case, traveling and being able to relax without making any decisions.
Commissioner Charlie Borrell summed up the feelings of the county board in expressing his appreciation for the energy and joy she brought to a job that was often stressful, routinely had long lines and often had customers who didn’t want to be there and were in a foul mood.
“When you took over as supervisor at the DMV, you have a work ethic and something in you that said we’re here to serve the people,” Borrell said. “That went out among everybody there. Anybody that goes back 20 years ago at the DMV (compared) to now, there is a completely different atmosphere there. If they want to thank someone for that, it’s Becky that did that.”
Aanerud’s final day of work with be in mid-January and there will likely be many tearful goodbyes between now and then. She has been an employee that has seen many changes to Wright County over three-and-a-half decades and her retirement will be bittersweet for many county employees – they will happy that she can enjoy her retirement, but will be sad to see her go because good-hearted souls like her don’t come along very often.