Cherry Republic lost the most iconic employee we ever had — our dear Glen Arbor Campus GM Kathy Baarstad. She embodied our precious values of Life, Liberty, Beaches and Pie more perfectly than anyone that’s ever worked here.
We were fortunate to hire Kathy Baarstad 15 years ago to help us with the Holiday rush – Kathy managed the phone order operators. Everything was going great that season with the phones and order processing until our busiest day when the whole system had a glitch and unknowingly, we were printing and sending out duplicate orders. And Kathy, when she found out, was sitting with stacks of paperwork – it’s late at night – she just pulled up her sleeves and made all the corrections with such grace. And then the next morning she was making jokes about it and we were laughing with several of our double-gifted customers.
That next spring Kathy was working as assistant store manager in Glen Arbor. I was in my office, which was perfectly positioned so I could keep an ear to everything going on. And from her first day on, I was fortunate to witness Kathy gracefully interact with customers and staff. Kathy’s presence made such a wonderful difference to every customer or worker that came into our Great Hall!
Kathy was motivated. She became store manager and then general manager of the entire campus of GA. And for me, I could not think of a more trusted person to oversee these flagship grounds, manage 75 employees, and greet tens of thousands of customers. She handled the day-to-day and the challenges with such grace and lightness.
Kathy was each individual staff person’s greatest cheerleader. Kathy went out of her way thousands of times to support us and help us become our best. When my mother, who worked alongside Kathy all those years, could no longer safely drive herself to Bonita Springs, Kathy taxied her down twice.
Kathy was always the epitome of health and fitness. She was an inspiration – her organized runs, her workouts – we all just felt healthier hanging out with her. It seemed like she would live forever and we would all live forever just by knowing her. Yet, unfortunately, it isn’t so. Kathy Baarstad has left for the heavens. Cherry Republic and the Glen Lake community will greatly miss having Kathy in our lives.
I can hardly imagine the grief Kathy’s husband Dave and kids Cameron, Sarah and Kadi are feeling. My heart goes out to them and to anyone who was lucky enough to know Kathy.