For 19 years, Fern Lee quietly went about her daily duties working at the city of Fallon Clerk-Treasurer’s office.
She was never one to seek the limelight, however, Fallon’s deputy clerk-treasurer was the focus of attention Wednesday when a retirement luncheon was held in her honor at the Old Post Office.
“It was very nice,” she said, adding with a laugh. “It seems pretty strange now. When you work every day with people, it’s hard to leave them.”
That is especially true since she is a native of Fallon and 1961 Churchill County High School graduate. Fern Lee and her husband, Rich, also raised their sons Kenny and Jimmy in the community.
“It’s been a great job,” she said. “It’s always fun to work with the people and the customers you know.”
Even though her role title was deputy, City Clerk/Treasurer Gary Cordes, called Fern Lee a leader in her own right.
“Fern has been a great asset to the City of Fallon,” Cordes said. “Over the last 19 years Fern has definitely taken the Clerk/Treasurer’s office to the next level.”
He went on to add she leaves a “highly motivated and smart team” behind at City Hall.
“Fern has taught me to make informed decisions, that nothing is black and white, and that cool heads shall prevail,” Cordes said. “Fern’s professionalism coupled with her outstanding management style has built a Clerk/Treasurer’s Department that is highly respected throughout the state.”
Bob Erickson, current city councilman and former mayor, informed the luncheon audience his friendship with Fern Lee spans four decades, back to a time when they started working together at Security Bank. Erickson went on to explain one of his first customers, a rodeo cowboy, actually rode to the bank on horseback.
“He made a deposit and the horse did not,” Erickson said, laughing.
Jamie Lee, executive director of the Churchill County Senior Center, has known her from a professional viewpoint and over the last 29 years as mother-in-law.
“Fern is a very special person, one of a kind and I’m sure anyone who knows her will agree,” said Jamie Lee, who is married to Jimmy Lee. “You only have to meet her once to know what a kind, hardworking, gracious, smart, amazing woman she is. I have never met another person who even comes close to having the patience and ethics she lives.”
Fern Lee has always preferred to do her work behind the scenes, according to her daughter-in-law.
“She never brags or boasts, she just does what needs to be done,” Jamie Lee said. “She gives more than her all, always putting everyone else first, helping and caring is a rare quality these days, and especially helping without expecting anything in return, which is her nature.”
Fern Lee is known for her work with civic clubs and community projects, or to simply help anyone who truly needs a helping hand. She was a volunteer with Soroptimists when the senior center opened.
“Over the last 19 years Fern has supported every employee’s children’s fund raiser,” Cordes said. “I bet she has enough Christmas wrapping paper, cookie dough, coupon books, pizza to last her the next 19 years.”
Mayor Ken Tedford Jr. commented on Fern’s 19 years with the city and what she has done on behalf of the community for so many years.
“I grew up knowing the impact Rich and Fern have had on the community,” Tedford said. “If we had more people like them, our community would be stronger.
“She was one person in the city who touched everyone’s life. She answered questions from paychecks to insurance to health care. If she didn’t know the answer, she would find it.”
Elsie Lee (no relation) was confirmed as the next deputy clerk-treasurer by the city council at its May 24 meeting. Elsie Lee, a 1992 CCHS graduate who later obtained her Associate degree from what was Western Nevada College and later studied at the University of Nevada.
Now, Fern Lee is ready to ride off into the sunset and enjoy some quiet retirement time with her husband.
“We’re going to travel a little, get to know the state and see some of the things we haven’t seen,” she said.