Kate Eppinger retires from J. Philip Kesecker, Inc.
If you've visited the offices of any variation of Kesecker Insurance and Realty over the past four decades, you've probably met Kathryn "Kate" Eppinger. She retired May 30 after 42 years and nine months of service.
Company salesman Philip Reed Oyerly presented her with a collection of his poetry on her retirement. He had written several poems about Eppinger in his works.
Eppinger, daughter of John Franklin Rankin and Laura May (Baker) Rankin, went to school with Philip Kesecker and graduated from Berkeley Springs High School with him in 1949.
Eppinger was president of her class and was a center guard for the girls' basketball team. She married the late William Eppinger, who died in 1997.
Eppinger worked for Potomac Light and Power, now Allegany Power, from 1949-1955. She was a homemaker until 1964.
Eppinger began working at Kesecker and Fox Insurance and Real Estate in September, 1964 as a secretary and receptionist. She got her insurance license in 1975 and became office manager in 1990.
Hennis Fox was Kesecker's original partner then, she said. Their building housed Mutt Wash Barber Shop and was right next door to the Hotel Washington.
Eppinger was a constant in Kesecker's business through all the changes in their business name, location and focus.
They moved to 101 North Washington Street into what is now Mountain Laurel Gallery. The business became Kesecker Realty and Insurance and then Kesecker Realty when Kesecker began concentrating mostly on real estate, said Eppinger. The company eventually relocated to 1515 Valley Road, where Kesecker focused solely on real estate, she said.
Kesecker Realty was sold to James Miller and it later became Coldwell Banker. Kesecker's business enterprises then became known as J. Philip Kesecker, Inc. and were housed in the same building. Their work involved subdivisions and became much busier, she said.
In 1994, Eppinger was honored for 30 years of service to the company at a reception at the Country Inn. Many business people in the community thought it was a retirement party for her, but she didn't retire then, said Eppinger.
Co-workers described Eppinger as honest, fair, hard-working, saying "she gets its right and makes sure you get it right." She also liked training the new agents when they came on board.
Eppinger recalled the days of being a secretary in 1964 and doing real estate listings with a manual typewriter, a ditto machine and typing stencils.
"You couldn't make a mistake or you had to start all over," she said.
Eppinger handled insurance policies, reception work, real estate listings, contracts, closings and other duties. She typed three copies of everything—one each for the seller, the buyer and the agent.
Active in her church
Eppinger belongs to Highland United Methodist Church and to Highland United Methodist Women. She is also key woman for the Board of Child Care for the church and is the church's membership secretary.
Eppinger has no definite retirement plans, but said that she'll concentrate on home projects for now. She loves to read romance and inspirational books, especially by authors Nicholas Sparks, Mitch Albom, Nora Roberts and Jan Karon. Eppinger tries to make one trip a year and has been on bus trips to Dollywood, Nashville and Las Vegas.
She also cherishes a collection of White House Christmas ornaments that her daughter Carol Suker and husband Warren Suker have gotten for her every year. Warren Suker formerly worked in the White House communications division. Eppinger also visited Camp David once, but didn't get to meet the president.
Eppinger really enjoyed her time working for Phil Kesecker. He and his wife Diggie (Doris) treated her like family, she said.
"They have always been really great to me. I couldn't have found any place I liked better," said Eppinger.
She liked meeting the people that visited the office the most. Eppinger made a lot of friends with people who came in.
"To this day, they still come in and ask about me. That's really nice," she said.