The "mother hen" of the Cole County ambulance service recently retired.
Marsha Walters started her emergency services career in Cole County in December 1995 working for Capital Region EMS, carrying on to Cole County EMS in July 2009 — 22 years in all.
Prior to that, Walters worked for EMS in Laurie and Mid-Mo Ambulance District.
While performing her duties as a paramedic, supervisor and dispatcher, she directly and indirectly influenced the care and treatment of thousands of residents, ambulance officials said.
"She's trained numerous EMTs and dispatchers during her career," Cole County EMS Public Information Officer Kevin Wieberg said. "Everybody wants to work with her."
Her co-workers noted Walters has become known for her "extraordinary" cooking and baking skills, often providing the ambulance staff with the fruits of her labor.
One of the harder parts of being an emergency services worker is having to be on duty during the holidays. It can be stressful, but Walters said they realize it's part of the job they have to do.
"There's no special mental preparation to get ready for working a holiday," she said. "Most of us have been doing this for so long that our families understand. We kind of make do, and have our own little celebration here in between calls."
"She's been like a mother to us," co-worker Ron Hoffman said. "You don't want to let her down, just like (you wouldn't) your own mother."
Walters plans to spend time with her family, especially her grandchildren, and continue her public service and community activities in retirement.
Along with serving on her city council and park board, the Stover resident manages to squeeze in time to work with the First Baptist Church of Stover and Stover School Booster Club.
"I don't like to be idle. I want to help," she said. "That's why I got into EMS — I like to help people and my community."
Walters said she's proud of all the changes that have taken place at the ambulance service in her time there.
"We've come a long way since I started," she said. "Our education has improved so much, and all the equipment we have is so much better."
Leaving EMS is bittersweet for Walters, as she feels they have been her second family.
"I could have done some part-time work, but I felt it was time to just stay in Stover," she said. "I love that town. I've been there most of my life."
Probably the one thing Walters won't miss is the drive to work.
"It is 55 minutes one way," she laughed. "Most of my career here I worked 24-hour shifts, so I did it twice a week. But then I switched to the 12-hour shifts, and that helped. It was all worth it. I can't say enough how much I've loved this place. I would have driven twice as far if I had to."