Someone You Should Know: Flandreau Dispatcher Retiring After 41 Years

FLANDREAU, S.D.-It’s rare to stay at any job for over forty years, but especially in a job as stressful as being an emergency dispatcher. However, one Flandreau women has accomplished just that.

“Everybody knows Leetha’s voice when they call,” said Moody County Sheriff, Troy Wellman.

“It can be a comforting sound when somebody calls in in distress.”

Leetha Petersen is well known in the Flandreau community. For 41 years she’s talked people through their toughest days. Now she is retiring from her position as emergency dispatcher for the Moody County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s just time. I think 41 years is enough,” said Petersen.

She started the job on Dec. 7, 1977 and was not sure what she was getting into.

“I went to college and it was for like an executive secretary type position and I figured this was filing and that kind stuff and would fit what I went to school for,” said Petersen.

Although she was in for a stressful ride, she stuck with it. Even through all the changes.

“We did everything long hand, wrote out everything. Then we graduated to type writer,  so everything was done typed and now we are at computers,” said Petersen.

She’s become the longest lasting employee.

“When I first started, I asked her one day, I said ‘do you realize I was one when you first started,”’ said Sheriff Wellman.

“It’s kind of always been a standing joke since then that she’s been here almost as long as I’ve been alive, but that’s an amazing feat and it doesn’t happen often.”

She knows her community very well which has helped her to be successful at her job.

“She does, it’s going to be a big hole to try to feel,” said Sheriff Wellman.

The 65-year-old says this job isn’t for everyone, but she’s learned patience and to how to listen.

“It’s been rewarding,” said Petersen.

Petersen says she’s stuck around so long because of her community and co-workers.

“Great relationships have developed,” said Petersen.

“She watches out for us. She’s got our back on the radio, so we all try to make sure she’s taken care of on her way either into work out of work,” said Sheriff Wellman.

She’s going to be missed.  

“It’s been a great privilege to be able to have her as an employee. She’s an amazing women, great friend,”said Sheriff Wellman.

She says she can retire feeling good about the work she’s done these past 41 years.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished something,” said Petersen.

Petersen’s excited to have more time to spend time with her five grandkids who are spread throughout South Dakota and North Dakota. However, this isn’t goodbye. Petersen has decided to stay on part time at the Moody County Sheriff’s Office, filling in when needed.




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