Many old acquaintances tracked Nancy Lindenmuth down this week, shuttling through a Geneva athletics office from which she retired Thursday.
Naturally, the experience prompted Lindenmuth to traipse through the past in kind, although one thought predated her 15 years as the school's athletics secretary.
"My mother always told me that it was best to leave a party when the guests still wanted you to stay," Lindenmuth said, "so I'm kind of hoping that's the case here as I depart."
No need to worry. Poll those who have worked alongside her, and they answer affirmatively in about the time it takes Lindenmuth to scan a registration form and smile.
Lindenmuth entered the fall thinking 2013-14 might be her final year after 22 in District 304 overall, but it wasn't until Geneva's holiday break that she and husband Mike crunched some data and determined an earlier retirement would be more beneficial.
Lindenmuth plans to help ease the transition of her yet-to-be-named successor as the school year winds down and work a handful of events.
Geneva athletic director Jim Kafer, Lindenmuth's colleague since 1999-00, doesn't foresee any future communication breakdowns. Still, he can't help but feel the void from losing a working relationship in which "each of us knows what the other would do and what needs to be done."
"Her strength is she's good with all people and she has to deal with so many different interest groups in this office," Kafer said. "They're all generally friendly, but everybody can become a little bit contentious when they want to make sure their interests are looked after."
Lindenmuth shifted over from the dean's office when the athletics secretary role expanded to include year-round work. She assures her summers have been equally busy as the school year, with 1,500 to 1,700 campers occupying Geneva's gym and athletic fields at various points.
Geneva's athletic population has grown in tandem with its student body through the years, creating extra coaches, registration, physicals, busing and more. Lindenmuth happily has done her part to help manage it all while adapting with the times.
A member of a fourth-generation farming family in Hiawatha, Kan., Lindenmuth admits she "wouldn't have even known what a web page was when I started this job 15 years ago." She did know she needed to learn as the office culture grew more Internet-based, so, like the Vikings she supports, Lindenmuth reacted.
"About the best compliment you can give an athlete is he's a problem-solver. He solves problems for you," said Geneva football coach and boys basketball assistant Rob Wicinski, who started at the school in 1998. "Nancy is all that and more.
"She's the face of the athletic department."
Lindenmuth was on hand for her own children's Vikings careers earlier in her tenure. Both Scott (Class of 2000) and Katy (2002) currently live in Lincoln Park. Katy, a former soccer standout, earned induction into the GHS Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.
They remain a focal point behind their mother's daily approach.
"I have always tried to live by the rule that I would like to treat students that come into my office with the same respect that I would have expected people to treat my kids with," Lindenmuth said. "So I've always tried to live by that and remember that we're here for kids."
Along with seeing more of her grandchildren, Lindenmuth seeks to reacquaint herself with activities that can often elude those with busy working lives. Being more involved with past philanthropy groups, hopping into some exercise classes and putting around in her garden are near the top of the list.
Remaining part of the Geneva athletic community goes without saying. Don't be surprised when Lindenmuth turns up to watch or work at future events.
She may be leaving the party, but she's not swearing them off for good.
"It's been a great run here. I'm going to miss everybody, and I won't be a stranger," Lindenmuth said. "I'll still be a Vikings fan, for sure."