After 41 years, Linda Bos keeps working

Linda Bos, center, celebrates her years at Oak Harbor Motors with, at left, owners Kathy and Mike Horrobin and, at right, Elsie Baldwin, who hired Bos in 1961. - Jim Larsen
Linda Bos, center, celebrates her years at Oak Harbor Motors with, at left, owners Kathy and Mike Horrobin and, at right, Elsie Baldwin, who hired Bos in 1961.
— image credit: Jim Larsen

At Oak Harbor Motors they knew it was time to honor Linda Bos for her long service, but they weren’t sure what number to write on the cake.

They estimated she started working there in 1972. Wrong, but that’s excusable. The fact is, If you bought a new car in 1961 and just replaced it with a 2002 car, you could purchase your license tabs from the same person: Linda Bos.

“It’s so long ago I can hardly remember, said Elsie Balda, Bos’s former boss. Balda was among a number of co-workers and family members who honored Bos with a party during lunchtime on Wednesday.

Balda was office manager in 1961 and clearly remembers hiring Linda, her niece. “She was just out of high school. I knew she was capable,” she said.

Bos concurs. She got a call from Balda right after graduation, and any plans for a Annette Funicello-type summer on the beach were dashed. “I went to West Beach, that was it,” she laughed.

At the time her name was Linda Eerkes, as she hadn’t yet met the man who would become her husband, Maynard Bos. With her Dutch heritage, this is a big weekend for her with all the Holland Happening festivities. She and family have done their time sitting on floats in the parade and sweeping the streets in Dutch costumes. This year, Bos said she’ll just enjoy being a spectator.

Bos proved so capable at her job that she has stayed 41 years, and her run isn’t over yet. She’s still working at selling license tabs and making sure that cars are properly titled and registered.

It hasn’t always been an easy job, especially when license tabs could cost up to $700 for owners of big RV’s or other expensive rigs. But Bos’s pleasant personality always made writing the check less painful.

“The customers aren’t always pleasant, but I always try to be pleasant,” Bos said. “Some say, ‘I’ve never had so much fun spending money’!” Customers have been more pleasant since the $30 license tab initiative passed a few years ago.

Kathy Horrobin put Bos’s ability to deal with the public in verse. “Linda can take a crabby customer and in his wallet leave a dent, but with her sense of humor and laughter, they always leave happy and content,” she wrote in a special poem for the occasion.

When Bos started working at Oak Harbor Motors, the business was located in the heart of downtown, where China City is now located. Owners at the time were Marv Porter and Harvey Wiggins, who called it the Oak Harbor Garage. Since they sold Chrysler products, it was known around town as the Dodge Garage.

Mike and Kathy Horrobin purchased the business in 1979 and changed the name to Oak Harbor Motors. Later, they moved a few blocks down the street to the present location at 75 SE Pioneer Way.

A party honoring her years of service was not something that Bos expected. “I was totally surprised, I cried,” she said. But after the lunch was finished and the cake was eaten, she went back to work. “This is not a retirement party,” she emphasized. “I’ll just keep traveling while I work.”

That was good news to the owners. Kathy Horrobin’s poem ended with the line, “Her retirement is the only thing we fear.”

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