Lisa Edgar: Playing her way out
By Joel Dresang
The night after Lisa Edgar’s retirement party, storms hit her neighborhood. They felled a tree onto the house next door. Nearly a quarter million households went dark.
“We spent three and a half days without power,” Lisa said. “And those were what I was considering the first days of my retirement: In a blackout, a thousand degrees of heat on the second floor of our brick duplex, sending my husband to air-conditioned work while I tried to buy a generator and find dry ice.”
Just hours before, in a festooned conference room at Landaas & Company, surrounded by the comfort of coworkers at a catered buffet, Lisa delivered parting thoughts to her weekday family of the previous 13 years.
“I got to be with the best people,” she told those gathered around her. She singled out Bob Landaas and his wife, Kathy, for thinking of her in 2008 and bringing her aboard.
“Thank you,” she said. “You’ve enriched my life in every way.”
Lisa had been the cheery voice and broad smile of Landaas & Company. She answered the phone when clients called and welcomed them in the office when they visited. She validated their parking. She engaged them in conversation.
“The people I worked with and the clients. Those two things, those interactions, that back-and-forth. That is what I will miss the most,” Lisa said at an outdoor café a week after her party. “I just will miss that connection, of being able to be helpful.”
Asked why she decided to retire when she did, Lisa said simply, “Because I can.”
“And the reason I can is because I worked for a really good company for thirteen and a half years, and they provided a 401(k), which I took full advantage of.”
Between her investments and Social Security, Lisa knew she could afford to leave her day job and pursue her music career again.
“Which does not pay well — and never did,” she said. “But I love it, and I have a few more years that I’ll get to do that.”
Lisa is known as The Banjo Goddess. Performing since her college days in pizza parlors then entertaining troops overseas with the USO, then playing across the U.S. with The Lean ‘N’ Tender All Meat Band for a Milwaukee meatpacker, Lisa has an extensive career. Her years at Landaas & Company included frequent appearances at festivals, parades, private events and Organ Piper Pizza.
Just weeks into her retirement, Lisa has added to her banjo repertoire and rearranged some of her standard tunes.
“I’m looking to play with other bands and to reinvent my own combo, Lisa Edgar & Razzmatazz,” she said.
Lisa has been keeping up healthy routines she established before leaving work, including daily walks. And she already has learned a couple of life lessons to pass along to others contemplating retirement:
- About tackling longstanding projects: “The cure to procrastination is not retirement.”
- About feeling indispensable at work: “Be humble enough to know that they can do without you.”
Eventually, a neighbor shared his generator with Lisa and her husband, Max. The storms died. The power got restored. The heat subsided. Her first days of retirement weren’t what she expected, but Lisa abided.
“I didn’t appreciate how lucky we were at the time because I was so hot. I was so hot the whole time,” Lisa said with an exasperated laugh. “It was a good thing that one of us didn’t have to go to work, to manage that emergency.”
Like it or not, the clients and her family at Landaas & Company must manage without Lisa, but she doesn’t worry about them.
“How I know that Landaas is such a good company is because, all along, the clients have told me that,” Lisa said. “The clients tell me they’re so grateful to be taken care of the way they are.”
Joel Dresang is vice president-communications at Landaas & Company.
(initially posted September 2, 2021)
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