Old bookkeepers never die, they just lose their balance.
Except when that is not the case.
Last Wednesday, December 30, our beloved former bookkeeper, Secretary-Treasurer and my Mom, Mary Lee Strack, unexpectedly passed away. Mom was 88 years old.
Mary Lee, along with her husband Ira, were co-founders of Custom Printing Company in 1966. For over 50 years, she worked side-by-side with my dad launching, nurturing and growing the business known today as CustomXM. During that time, she also launched and nurtured a family of 5 kids (and 12 grandkids, and 4 great-grandkids)!
CustomXM founders Ira and Mary Lee Strack, inspecting our mask making operations.
As our bookkeeper, Mom was a stickler for detail. She would make sure every report, reconciliation and account would balance to the penny. If not, the great search was on! By my calculations, she processed over 2600 payroll periods during her 50+ year career. Regardless of who you were, all staff were treated fairly, and within strict accordance of company policy. I recall years when ago our payroll time-keeping increments were in 15-minute intervals. If you worked an 8-minute interval, your pay was rounded up to the next quarter hour. BUT – if you worked only a 7-minute interval, your pay reflected the lower quarter hour period. That was company policy.
But Mom’s compassion always showed through. If an employee was struggling, was short on cash, or needed time off, or possibly even needed an “extra” minute to round up, she always found a way to make “adjustments” to company policy. That’s just how family business works sometimes. If you were an employee at Custom Printing, Mom made sure you were part of the family.
I was amazed at Mom’s adaptability over her 50 years as our bookkeeper. Imagine all the technological changes that occurred during her career. In the late 60’s and 70’s, much of her balancing act was done with manual ledgers. In the early 80s, when the company obtained its first IBM PC, I recall assisting her (somewhat) in the set up of some VisiCalc spreadsheets. Major strides, and headaches, were incurred when Mom took the plunge of computerizing our accounting with some of the earliest DOS programs. Even in the 90’s and 2000’s, as Windows and QuickBooks became the norm, Mom forged ahead. She lived through the evolution of floppy disks, SyQuest drives, hard drives, thumb drives and cloud backups. She may not have liked it, but she persevered. She learned it all. And never lost her desire to balance to the penny.
Dad retired a few years before Mom. When she came to the office one or two days a week to complete payroll and pay bills, Mom enjoyed that time being a part of the “corporate” world. And she never lost that sense of treating each employee fairly, while keeping in mind they were all part of the family.
I’m not totally sure what happens to old bookkeepers. Some may lose their balance; some may lose their figures. But for me, and all of us at CustomXM, Mom will forever be on the clock.
You can find Mary Lee Strack’s full obituary here.