GRANGEVILLE – For Jolene Rupp, the desire to be a bookkeeper came early.
“I took some accounting classes in high school, and I just knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
Rupp will retire July 12, after 19 years as bookkeeper at the Idaho County Free Press and The Shopper.
Rupp was born in Blackfoot, Idaho, and a year later her family bought a farm at Apple Valley in Parma.
The family grew a variety of crops including potatoes, barley, wheat and hay, and had dairy cows.
“My dad needed help in the field and had me driving tractor at age 8,” Rupp recalled. The fifth in a line of seven siblings – three brothers and four sisters counting herself – Rupp admits she was “ornery.”
A kick from a cow kept her away from milking as often as possible.
“I was skittish after that, and if I had the option of milking or house cleaning, I would choose house cleaning,” she recalled.
She attended grades first through sixth at Apple Valley and then went on to graduate from Parma High School. Following that, she attended Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore., for a year where she studied business.
It was there that she was part of the Latter-day Saints Institute and met her future husband, Kent, who was from Meridian. Kent obtained an associate’s degree in agriculture from TVCC.
Rupp went on to work for the Union Pacific Railroad out of Nampa, where she was a telegrapher on the “Extra Board.” She filled in in areas throughout southern Idaho, including in Mt. Home, Glenn’s Ferry, Weiser and Payette, working jobs from ticket taker and monitor to baggage carrier and dispatch.
“I made $5 an hour and thought I was rolling in the dough,” she laughed.
In 1971, she and Kent were married and that same year moved to North Central Idaho – Kamiah -- where his family had purchased a couple of dry farms. His family later moved to the area and in another two years Kent and Jolene had purchased their own 400 acres from his father and built a home on Caribel, nine miles outside of Kamiah.
“I grew up knowing how hard work farming was and I swore I’d never marry a farmer – yet here I was,” Rupp shook her head. “And I thought Kent had brought me to the backwoods of the backwoods – literally the end of the world.”
She said if it weren’t for the kind, welcoming neighbors and community, she didn’t know if she would have made it.
She stayed home with her seven children, but when her oldest was 13 and her youngest was 18 months, she returned to the work force.
“I really felt I needed to provide health benefits for my family,” she said.
In 1985, she went to work at Kamiah Credit Union as a teller. She was there four years, then went on to work at the Kamiah Mill in reception, accounts payable, payroll and as a log payroll clerk. The business was bought out several times during her employment. During this time, she had the opportunity to return to school and attended Lewis-Clark State College where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in business management.
She received her degree at the age of 47.
“I think at graduation I was about two feet off the ground,” she smiled. “To finish that goal felt so amazing.”
She then went on to work for the Idaho Department of Labor in Orofino, Idaho, and then Bennett Lumber in Grangeville.
When a bookkeeping job opened at an Idaho County business, Rupp’s friends from the Idaho Department of Labor encouraged her to apply for the job.
“They couldn’t tell me the name of the business at the time, but told me I would be a good fit and they felt I would really enjoy it, so I applied,” she said.
That was 19 years ago, and the job was as bookkeeper at the Free Press. Then publisher Andy McNab interviewed her, and she was hooked.
“I love the bookkeeping end,” she said. “Collections, not so much.”
Rupp said she had been thinking about retirement for the past couple of years, but felt the time was right to spend time with her husband and 26 grandchildren.
“I just want to be available for them,” she said.
The Rupps’ Caribel home with its remaining 65 acres are for sale, and, eventually, they would like to move to her family home in Parma.
“We’re selling the remainder of our cows this fall, and that will free up our time to come and go,” Rupp said. “So, if the house sells or it doesn’t, we’re comfortable where we are.”
Retirement may bring some travel and Rupp would also like to delve into her family genealogy as well as get back into some sewing and quilting.
“Some people cannot believe I drove 78 miles round trip every day for work, but I will honestly miss that drive and the scenery,” she said. “It’s been a good place to work; it’s been a good life so far.”
Rupp added she has “loved working in Grangeville.”
“I want Grangeville know that I love this little town and so proud and happy to have been a part of this community,” she said. “There are wonderful people here.”