MARSHALL - You might call Phyllis Moberg a very welcoming person. In fact that has been her life for more than 40 years - welcoming newcomers to Marshall.
Moberg is retiring from the job that she has loved.
"I've enjoyed it so much," she said. "I love people. I enjoy people."
Photo by Karin Elton
Phyllis Moberg held a plaque from the Welcome Wagon recognizing her years of service. She is retiring after more than 40 years of welcoming newcomers to Marshall.
Sending a good-bye letter out to all her sponsors - ones who have contributed items such as coupons, personalized pencils and toothbrushes to her basket - has been "the most difficult thing I have ever done," she said. "The sponsors have been so wonderful."
"She's done a wonderful job over the years," said Russ Labat, Independent publisher. "She was often the first contact new people had when they moved here and she left a lasting impression."
The Independent offered a free subscription for a certain amount of time, Labat said, and "she would tell them that they could get a lot of news from reading the paper."
Moberg said she got into the Welcome Wagon business by observing a friend who was working for the company.
"I told her if you ever give it up I would love to do it," she said.
It wasn't too long after that that the friend did leave the business and Moberg stepped right in.
"I originally wanted to be a social worker," she said, "and in a sense I have been."
Moberg went into people's homes - "I always made an appointment," she said - and answered questions about Marshall and told the newcomers what the city had to offer.
"Sometimes they would say, 'we're not really set up for company' and I would say, 'that's OK, I'll sit on the floor,'" Moberg said, adding that helping them get "set up" is the whole point of her business.
In 1995 Moberg received a plaque from Welcome Wagon welcoming her to the Diamond Circle "in recognition of her years of service and dedication," it said.
Shortly after that, however, Welcome Wagon changed its business model, preferring to contact customers through direct mail. Moberg and others chose to go into business for themselves as Welcome Home ladies.
Michael Thomas, D.D.S. was welcomed by Moberg 11 years ago when he moved to Marshall.
"She handed out cards and brochures and explained each one to me rather than just say 'here, here's a goodie bag for you,'" Thomas said.
So when it came time for him to be one of those advertisers, he knew she would take the extra time with his dental practice as well.
"Lots of times new patients - whole families - would come in and say, 'the Welcome Wagon lady told us about you,'" Thomas said.
Oftentimes when she is out and about in Marshall, she'll come across people who say, "you called on me 20 years ago" or "you called on me 12 years ago," Moberg said. They might say they still use a kitchen utensil that she gave them.
Moberg said she treats everyone she meets the same way.
"I've met all kinds of different people," she said.
She has gone to houses in "the dead of winter" walking up outside stairways and visited as many as 45 people in a summer.
Moberg has found the people she has met to be friendly for the most part.
"There have been very few times when I've been hesitant," she said.
Unfortunately, Moberg said, her days of meeting new people have come to an end.
"It's harder to get a hold of people," she said. "They don't have landlines. Utilities used to send us lists, but now it's an invasion of privacy."
Moberg said she will still act as Marshall's unofficial ambassador.
"I'll continue to speak well of the Marshall businesses," she said.