COLUMBIA, SC — Sharing lunch together every day isnt an option for every married couple, but its one Larry and Jane Huss have enjoyed the past 20 years. The couple has spent a combined 55 years at Columbia International University and both are retiring this month.
Larry has been at CIU for 35 years as an accounting clerk, accounting manager and controller. Jane has 20 years of service at CIU, including 11 years at Ben Lippen School, where she taught middle school music and choir, high school choir, and headed the Fine Arts Department. She has spent the past nine years as assistant registrar at CIU.
The two recently talked aboutthe joys and challenges of their close professional connections, the high points of their careers and their advice for other couples in the workplace.
What have been some of the biggest joys of being able to spend so much of your professional lives together?
Larry: Being able to ride to work together, eat lunch together and vacation together has been a tremendous blessing. And, by working at the same place we were involved in the life of the same institution, which has given us both the same focus and understanding of our mission.
Jane: One has been the joy of working for a Christian organization, and so having both of us working there has been a blessing we dont take lightly. We know the same people and understand any situations or frustrations.
Likewise, what are some of the challenges?
Larry: Anyone who has ever been married knows that the more you are together, the more you irritate each other in little ways. Like any couple, we have our moments, but neither of us is the kind to stay upset long. A successful marriage is made up of two very good forgivers.
Jane: Being around each other all of the time can cause you to get on your spouses nerves sometimes. But we simply find time for ourselves. Now that we are retired, we really are around each other 24/7, so finding that alone time will become even more important.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Larry: Working at an institution where I believed in the mission 100 percent and being able to work with some of Gods choice servants. CIU is blessed with so many wonderful people and I have been fortunate to have been able to rub shoulders with them during my career.
Jane: For my job, I loved helping students, faculty, deans, and staff do their jobs better. While I wasnt called to go out on the mission field, I always felt like I was doing my part in helping others get to their mission field. And much of my job consisted of teaching students and faculty how to do their jobs register, enter grades ... So I was still using my teaching gifts and skills, just in a different way.
What aspect of your spouses work ethic do you appreciate most?
Larry: Jane cares very deeply about the quality of her work and serving the students at CIU. Her job was a people job where mine was more behind the scenes. She has a bubbly personality and excelled at customer service.
Jane: I always felt that Larry is a great boss and the people who worked for him would tell me the same thing. He gave them space to do their jobs without micromanaging, and always cared about them as people. He has a great work ethic, and always gives 100 percent, even if that means working past quitting time.
How did you know when it was time to retire?
Larry: That is a difficult question to answer except to say that you just know, which sounds trite. I had been feeling like it was time for a while, and during a meeting with my supervisor he asked me about retirement. After talking about it for a while it became obvious to me that it was Gods time for me to lay down my calculator.
Jane: I was home with our sons before they went to school, and frankly have always wanted to be home since then. But the Lord clearly showed me that he had other things in mind for me to be doing for a time. To be able to retire at the same time as Larry has just been perfect. God is so good. Neither one of us had to get up and go to work while the other was home, already retired.
What is some of the best advice you can offer other couples considering pursuing positions in the same workplace?
Larry: Try and stay focused on the big picture and the blessings of working at the same place rather than the negative aspects. The blessings far outweigh the negatives, believe me.
We understand there are grandchildren, but what are you other plans for retirement?
Larry: I plan to garden a lot and read.
Jane: I will always be a huge supporter of both Ben Lippen and CIU, and will always promote them to anyone who is thinking of attending. They will always have a special place in our hearts.
Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.