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Hy-Vee has announced that Rose Kleyweg Mitchell, the company's senior vice president of governmental affairs, will retire at the end of the fiscal year. A former high school English teacher, Kleyweg Mitchell joined the company in a store-level job in 1978, but soon became a training supervisor and eventually director of training, then assistant vice president of education and training, then vice president of training, and eventually expanded her role to include governmental affairs. She was promoted in 2005 to senior vice president, education and governmental affairs, joined the Executive Committee in 2008 and became a permanent member of the Hy-Vee Board of Directors.
KC's View:
There will be a surfeit of tributes to Rose in the coming months, and I think it is fair to say that every one will be deserved, because she is one of those people who has been able to have both an enormous personal and professional impact within the industry.

In his memo about her retirement, Hy-Vee CEO Randy Edeker writes that she "has been one of Hy-Vee’s most successful officers and will be difficult to replace. Rose has spent years developing a unique trust with top political leaders at the local, state and national levels. She has blazed a trail in Hy-Vee for many women who see her as a role model. So as we celebrate her wonderful, successful career, we do so knowing we will have big shoes to fill."

Edeker adds: "Rose’s hard work has earned recognition from all those who worked with her. However, her greatest accomplishment didn’t come with a plaque or trophy, but rather the admiration and appreciation from all those who will follow in her footsteps. As the first woman to serve as an officer of Hy-Vee and the first woman to be named to the Hy-Vee Board of Directors, she has broken many barriers and set high standards for all to follow."

And here's the deal. She's a lot of fun to hang with. She's been a fixture at MNB parties over the years, and has been an enormous supporter and friend of this site.

But when I think of Rose, it will be of one specific event. It was a state association meeting, which came with a golf tournament. Michael Sansolo and I were speaking there, and Rose was in attendance, and the three of us ended up playing in the tournament.

This required no small bit of courage on Rose's part. You see, that was the first round of golf I'd ever played. Also, the last. (My face is on wanted posters subsequently posted in golf clubs all over the country.) But that was a fun afternoon that I'll never forget - filled with laughter and jokes and good natured ribbing. Though, to be fair, it also demonstrated the limits of Rose's training abilities, since she and Michael were unable to teach me how to hit a golf ball.

Rose Kleyweg Mitchell will be missed - not just by the company that nurtured her, gave her opportunities, and benefitted from her wisdom and hard work, but also by an industry that is richer for her presence.

The good news is that she's not dead. Just retiring. And people like Rose don't fade away. They just find new challenges and new opportunities.