Ingenthron a fixture at City HallWORTHINGTON — When Rosa Ingenthron started her work study program at Worthington City Hall in 1976, she never imagined she would be “one of those ladies.”
WORTHINGTON — When Rosa Ingenthron started her work study program at Worthington City Hall in 1976, she never imagined she would be “one of those ladies.”
“There were these ladies at city hall who had been working here for 30 years,” Ingenthron said. “I thought to myself, ‘How could they walk up these same steps, sit at the same desk, do the same job, every day for 30 years,” she said. Thirty-plus years later, here I am.”
Today, she is the special assessments clerk for the city of Worthington.
As the oldest of five siblings, Ingenthron was born to Sidney Kruger and Martha Kruger. Her siblings are: Ricky, Randy, Roxanne, and Rhonda.
“My father worked at Armour’s and he also farmed. Nowadays, most people know him as ‘the piano man’,” she said. “My mother was a school bus driver. She just retired in spring 2011 after driving for 45 years. I remember those days when I grew up next to Kempema Brothers Bus Service.”
As common as it sounds, Ingenthron was one of the many teenagers in Worthington who dreamed of leaving home as soon as she graduated from high school.
“I thought I was going to leave but I didn’t,” she said. “I went to college at Worthington Community College (WCC) mostly because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. Financially, it was a good choice, too, because I could live at home.”
While in college, part of her financial aid was from the work study program. She began her stint as an office assistant at city hall.
“I did menial things like agenda tabs for the city council meetings. We used to put little tabs on them, and I had to lick them. Sometimes there were 15 to 20 of them,” she said in between laughter. “But it was a job, and I needed the money.”
Ingenthron also began dating her future husband, Casey, while she was attending college
“We dated for seven years and we’ve been married for 29 and half years,” she added. “It has been a good marriage.”
The couple has two children: Cody, 25, and Toni, 23.
When Ingenthron graduated from WCC in the spring of 1977, she was hired as a summer employee at the city’s engineering department. Her job was to mail announcements of upcoming city projects.
“When the summer was over, I started looking for a job very seriously,” she added. “I had decided that I didn’t want to go any further in college, which was a big mistake now that I think about it.”
Fortunately for Ingenthron, she had made a good impression while working for the engineering department.
“Apparently, they liked my work ethic,” she said. “I was hired full time Sept. 12, 1977, and I’ve been here ever since.”
At that time, the city had just created a new position known as the special assessments clerk. She explained that the city conducted an annexation in 1972.
“The annexation meant public improvements and with public improvements came special assessments,” Ingenthron explained.
Initially, special assessments were handled by the city clerk but due to an overwhelming amount of work, Ingenthron’s job position was created.
“It’s a form of taxation. If you have a new street done, the property owners that benefit from those public improvements pay for all or a portion of the improvement,” she explained.
A new job in an unfamiliar territory was daunting to Ingenthron, but her fascination with history of each property drew her in.
She detailed how she thoroughly enjoyed the ownership section of property assessments. “I could see over the years who had owned what property, and what property had been (located) where.”
“What I found really fascinating was in the downtown area. In the early 1920s and 1930s, there was a lot of what was known as ‘immigrant people’ like Italians and Jewish,” she continued. “To see how those names have changed to what we would think of as normal American names. Now we see those names change to new immigrant ownerships. We’re just going around in a circle again.
“Pretty soon names that I think are difficult to say will just be commonplace.”
Cancer: A journey
Ingenthron was always an active person until she was diagnosed with cancer.
“I like to eat too much to not exercise,” she said, explaining that she would swim, cycle and lift weights.
In the spring of 2010, Ingenthron began noticing changes with her body — specifically weight gain, bloating and backaches. While she was baffled by what was going on, she dismissed the changes. Little did she know that those changes were symptoms of ovarian cancer.
“One day I felt so horrible so I laid on the floor and I asked Casey to feel my abdomen,” she detailed. Casey, she described, said that her abdomen felt different to the touch.
Following her husband’s advice, Ingenthron scheduled a doctor’s appointment. One appointment led to another, and within three days of testing, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer on a Wednesday in June.
Despite being in shock, Ingenthron was relatively calm about the life-changing news she had received.
“There are two things I remember thinking when I was told that I had cancer. One, I was so glad that it was happening now instead of 40 years ago because then, it would have been a death sentence. Now, there is so much medical advancement that it wasn’t an automatic death sentence” she explained.
“The other thing was a song that I learned as a kid,” she added — “I Just Keep Trusting My Lord.”
After a hysterectomy, Ingenthron explained that her recommended treatment was chemotherapy, which she jokingly refers to as a “cocktail.”
“I’m onto my fourth cocktail now,” she said.
In between her chemotherapy sessions, she opted to be part of a chemical trial for Avastin, an experimental drug for ovarian and breast cancer. Avastin is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for lung and colon cancer.
“For me, it didn’t work,” she said.
She further explained that when test results show a patient is cancer-free, the acronym NED for ‘No Evidence (of) Disease” is listed.
“A lot of women say that NED is their boyfriend. I had NED for a boyfriend for 10 or 12 weeks,” she joked. “And then, he dumped me. That was when Avastin didn’t work.”
Ingenthron said that she couldn’t have been more privileged to receive strong support from family and friends. She stressed how cancer isn’t a battle for her, it’s a journey.
“I have the most wonderful husband,” she said. “In Greek, there’s a love called Agape love which is the unconditional love of God, but I have seen that love so much out of my husband.”
“It’s amazing how people come out of the woodwork,” she continued. “Some people I never expected to send me cards sent me cards.”
Road to recovery
A lot of activities that she used to be involved in have come to halt during cancer, but one activity Ingenthron continues is biking to work — something she has been doing for four years.
The frigid winters do not deter her. Unless the roads are covered in snow, she’s on her bike every day.
“When we visited my daughter, who was an exchange student in Crailsheim (Germany), we would see all these business people with their suits on and everyone was biking,” she explained about what spurred the idea.
“I had a lot of people laugh at me when I started, but now they don’t do that so much.”
In between work, family and her cancer journey, Ingenthron spends a lot of time with nature. She has recently started a wildflower patch bearing native Minnesota flowers.
“Being outside is my sanity so during winter months I dream about gardening,” she said with a laugh.
While she has not been able to garden as much as she’d like to, Ingenthron enjoys a host of other hobbies including reading, fishing, bird watching and visiting stores that market repurposed items.
“Maybe it’s a middle age thing, but my husband and I are also now motorcyclists,” she detailed. “At least he is and I am the passenger. The last two summers we have spent time riding short trips that I can handle.”
Ingenthron may have never left Worthington for a new adventure after high school but, in retrospect, that was a good decision.