Getting Personal: Pam Hieser

Getting Personal: Pam Hieser

Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat withPam Hieser, a former art teacher at NormaL University High School who now works in the systems department at State Farm. 

What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?

In the last several months, my schedule has changed a bit. I get up earlier, about 5:30, and before I get ready for work, I may prepare or print some letters, do a little sketching or plan some activities for the evening. This is to manage the extra workload I have taken on as I have recently published my book, "The Star Who Almost Wasn't There" (check it out at My original intent in considering publishing was to bring in income after I retire next June, to support the not-for-profit work I want to do in retirement. I want to give back to my community by creating two not-for-profit organizations. The first is based on Lambs Farm of Libertyville (, a residential and work community for developmentally disabled adults. The second is based on College of the Ozarks (, a tuition-free college that requires students to work for their tuition on campus or at campus-run enterprises, and stresses hard work and character-building. I was hopeful that when I published the story sometime after I retired, it would provide a small portion of funding to get things started. But in late summer 2012, I was called to a mission to put the story into the hands of little children. So now, even before I retire, I have published the story and am working to find ways to get the books distributed by mission groups and NFP organizations with broad reach. I am sharing my portion of the profit with these groups so they can raise money for their own good works.

What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?

Lunch today was a special event. My entire test team dined together at a Bloomington restaurant specializing in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. I had egg drop soup, an egg roll and pepper beef. I brought home a good portion as well.

What is your best high school memory?

I remember, with a smile, the first time I became aware of the young man who became my high school sweetheart and first love and knew that he was interested in me. I was 17. It was just a small and rather silly gesture as he passed me in the hall to get my attention. It surprised me, and I felt a fluttering sensation. Now I certainly had found other boys attractive. But that was the first time I had ever felt that feeling of "butterflies."

Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.

High heels, open-toed and made of silk print with several color flowers on a dark background. They look like a work of art, and I've only worn them once. Not so practical for a 67-year-old, but we never stop enjoying things we find beautiful. I've been thinking about hanging a glass shelf on my bedroom wall and displaying them where I can always see them.

What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?

Spending time with my husband, Roger, generally after church. We might head for our pontoon if the weather permits. But if that's not possible, it might be a lunch somewhere and maybe a walk, and maybe a visit to friends or family. We might take a one-day road trip or, if the day is just right, I may climb up behind Roger on his Harley. It is the time we spend enjoying nature, friends and sometimes new experiences that is special.

Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?

I read many books as a child. But "Charlotte's Web" is one I checked out and reread at different times in my childhood. The first time I read it, I cried. At 67, I understand the circle of life and I know the spider led a full life and reproduced. So you would think if I read it now, I would not cry. But I'm pretty sure I would.

Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

The place I would most like to go is the Holy Land. I know that by walking through spiritual history of many religions, and perhaps walking in the same footsteps that Jesus has trod, I would feel something very special, something even more than history.

Tell me about your favorite pet.

Perhaps, because she is the most recent, Missy the beagle pops into my head most often. She is actually my granddaughter's pet, but they both lived with me for a few months.

Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?

I have discovered that I look more like my mother as I age. I see her eyes in my rearview mirror. And I have known for a long time that I am like her, exhibiting a lack of patience. I've been working on that for years. But I also feel I am like my father in wanting to help others when the opportunity arises.

What would you order for your last meal?

My Russian grandmother made the best homemade chicken noodle soup, and I make a pretty mean pot myself. It is loaded with carrots, celery, parsley and garlic. After stewing the chicken so I have a rich broth, I throw in half the vegetables and cook them down ... slow cooking for hours. Then I put in the rest and let them cook just enough to be soft. I end up with the best broth, rich with chicken fat and the flavors of vegetables, yet full of chunks of chicken and veggies. It is ladled over freshly cooked noodles. I'd have that and glass of cold milk.

What can you not live without?

Love. But I am blessed with plenty of that as we are all blessed to receive love from God, in many ways, often through friends and family. I imagine living without love to be very bleak and despairing.

Who do you have on your iPod?

I do not have an iPod, but I have a fair number of CDs. If we go back to my youth, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Mathis and early Barbra Streisand were favorites. In more recent years, I found myself impressed with the poetry of 17-year-old Taylor Swift, and I love Daughtry, too. I was married in 2010 and chose three songs to send my family a message that there is joy in dance and it is a great metaphor for "live, take a chance." They were, "Why Don't We Just Dance" by Josh Turner, "Can I Have This Dance For the Rest of My Life" by Anne Murray and "I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack. The latter was sung by my granddaughter, Sarah Lancaster.

What's the happiest memory of your life?

Raising my three children, Jodi, Chad and Ryan, and all the fun we had when they were little. For five years, I was a stay-at-home mother. I have since then worked 38 years at two different careers. But the most important time of my life was when I was home with my own little babies.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?

President Bill Clinton, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

"The housework will be there tomorrow, the sunny day may not." Thank you, Bonnie!

What's your best piece of advice?

"The housework will be there tomorrow, the sunny day may not." Really, the most important thing I've ever done is to share time with my children. You only get one chance to raise them. There are no redos.

What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?

Part-time cashier for Jewel. That job lasted through high school and summers while I was in college. I started at $1.70 per hour in 1963.

What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?

A pivotal decision was to not complete the work for my master's degree in art education. At the time, there was no tenure in my school, and it would have likely priced me out of my job. So I started taking classes in other fields and at one point decided to see if I could handle a computer programming class. And that changed my life. I loved it!

Do you have a bad habit? What is it?

When I get excited about something, I get louder and come across poorly. Not always but almost always with people I love and with whom I let my hair down, so to speak. I have got to do better with this.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

I am erratic on this. There are times when I absolutely lose it and my brain does not function. Then I panic, which causes me to feel like the crazy lady. I sometimes respond to frustration with this. Not good. But then there are times when I operate beautifully under stress and know exactly what I need to do, and I do it. I wish I could tell you what triggers one response or the other.

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):People
Categories (2):News, People
Location (3):Local, LeRoy, McLean County

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