By Dan Bechtold, Editor
Friendships were built young and have lasted for years for children who attended Linda’s Daycare of Winner.
Linda Schroeder has been taking care of children for 37 years and recently retired.
A retirement open house was held on June 23 at the Baptist Church of Winner. She started babysitting in the fall of 1981 on the farm 30 miles northwest of Winner.
Her sister-in-law Alona Burtz was a teacher’s aide at one of the rural schools near the Burtz farm and needed someone to watch her children while she was at work. Linda said she would help out. Then, Laurie Bailey, who had 5 children, occasionally needed Linda’s help.
In 1986, Neil and Linda Schroeder moved to Winner and moved into a home on Monroe Street. Neil had taken a job with the Department of Transportation in Winner. Two weeks after they moved to Winner, relatives seeking daycare sought out Linda.
Over the years, Linda figures she has taken care of 126 children.
She never advertised and noted it was just word of mouth as people referred their children to her. People knew Linda was very caring, loving and they trusted her to take care of their children.
Dawn Covey says she was fortunate to have Linda be the daycare provider for all three of her children who are now ages 20, 25 and 28. Also, Linda took care of Dawn’s granddaughter, Kenna, daughter of Clint and Sarah Covey, for a period of time. “My kids loved Linda’s house,” said Dawn.
A typical day at the daycare would start around 7:30 a.m. and would last till around 5:30 p.m.
Linda notes she never had a lunch hour as she was always busy with kids.
Linda said she never had a set schedule. “I felt kids need to be kids and life is too busy,” she said.
Linda read a lot of books to the children.
Dawn Covey credits her kids being good readers to Linda. “She spent countless hours surrounded by ‘her kids’ reading numerous books to them,” said Dawn.
Linda said the children loved to paint and they would do water color painting.
“I tried to do learning activities without it seeming like it was preschool,” she explained.
Linda likes to do crafts so the children would do crafts with her. They would make valentines, gifts for mothers on Mothers Day and much more.
Linda loves flowers and she would let the children pick flowers to take home a bouquet to their parents.
Linda added the children loved to blow bubbles outside.
Over the years, Linda baked a lot of cookies and if fact, this week she was baking chocolate chip cookies for her open house.
If she did not have a baby to care for she would make cookies while the children were napping. Linda encouraged the children to take a nap around 1 p.m. “I felt their brains were young and growing and they needed that down time.”
There was always a good lunch and snacks at the daycare. Around 10 a.m. Linda would serve a morning snack of crackers and cheese, peanut butter toast, fruit or cookies.
Over the years, Linda made a lot of homemade bread.
At lunch everyone sat around the table be eat. She said some of the lunch favorites were homemade pizza, goulash, mac and cheese and lasagna.
“I have kids today who will stop me and tell me that no one makes goulash as good as I do,” she said.
To allow her time to prepare lunch Linda tries to find a good PBS show or a good movie to keep the kids entertained.
Linda used to take the children to the library for story hour and also if there was a smaller group they would go to the library to pick out a book.
When the weather was nice Linda and the kids would walk to the park to play.
The Schroeders have a lot of playground equipment in a fenced in backyard which gave the kids plenty of room to play.
The kids she took care of ranged in age from infants to youths getting ready for school.
Linda says she never wanted to have more than two babies under the age of one. “I love babies and I would rock them and hold them.”
As the children in her care got older and getting ready for school she could feel they we outgrowing the daycare. “The older ones were so smart and would come up with some amazing and funny things,” she said.
Linda explained she had the most wonderful families and they were so good to her. “I still get Christmas cards from so many of the families,” she said.
Linda has an album filled with pictures of the children over the years.
“It is so fun to look though the album and see how they have grown.”
Linda loves going to football games and boys and girls basketball games and seeing how the young people she once cared for have matured.
“You know those are ‘my kids’ out there,” she said.
Linda was so honored when one year she was chosen as the Winner High School homecoming parade marshal. That year some of the students on the WHS student council were former youths at her day care.
But it is not only sporting events, she goes to graduations, weddings and other special events and is so proud of each person.
When she went to Mitch DeMers wedding Tory Sharkey was the best man. And in Tory’s speech he said: “It all started at Linda’ house when Mitch and I were playing with tractors.”
Haley DeMers and Ashleigh Tuttle were also at Linda’s daycare and were roommates at the University of Sioux Falls.
A new weeks ago Linda attended Tuttle’s wedding with DeMers in the wedding party. “Friendships were built young and have lasted,” said Linda.
When Linda’s kids were getting active in school events, she took off Fridays so she could attend the games.
About three years ago, she decided to take off all summer and then start again when school began.
Her last day at the day care was a couple of days after Memorial Day.
Linda went to college and majored in child development. She went to South Dakota State University for a year and a half and Northern State University for a year.
Over the years Linda said there were very few discipline issues. The kids were good.
“I was a part of their family and that is what I wanted to be because I treated them as family,” she noted.
Linda will miss the kids. “I will not miss the work, but I will miss the kids and those baby smiles.”
Dawn Covey said there were so many things Linda did that were special. She always took time to celebrate each child’s birthday, have parties for all the holidays, and just “giving them all her time and energy.”
Dawn added that Linda was good about capturing those moments in photos and then sharing them with the parents.
Dawn added: “Linda saw the importance of teaching the kids to respect each other and treat each one kindly. I just love it that to this day all of these kids have a special bond. They were more than just kids that went to the same daycare, they are family.”
As a working mother, Dawn could go to work and have the peace of mind that her children were being well taken care of. “I also knew we shared the same values and that God would be her guide in taking care of my kids.”
Dawn’s son, Carson, was one of those children who had the benefit of being in Linda’s daycare. Carson just finished his master’s degree at North Dakota State University in Fargo. He has accepted a 6-12 grade vocal music position in Mountain Lake, Minn.
When asked to comment on Linda, Carson said in an e mail: “There are so many good memories about Linda’s house. A lot of those moments include her wonderful cooking, being read to, her greenhouse full of toys, her backyard with a tree house, her dog named Cloud.”
Carson said there are other things that stand out about Linda. “After I reached an age when I no longer needed daycare Linda still cared about what I was doing. This lasted from the time I was a kid until even now as she was/is frequently at many high school events where many of her previous “kids” are participating. She attends many of her past “kids” graduations and was even in attendance at my wedding.
“This is just one example of how she has compassion and cares about every child she has taken care of. Another thing about her daycare that stood out to me is the lasting friendships that I created there. Many of the kids I attended daycare with are still some of my good friends and I believe that is because of the positive environment that Linda created when running her daycare. I consider myself lucky to have had a babysitter like Linda and I know there are many of her “kids” that feel the same way. I wish Linda a happy and enjoyable retirement,” said Carson.
Linda and Neil have four grown children and 12 grandchildren.
The four children include: Brad of Canistota who works for Eros Data Center and has five children. He has a farm and raises lots of sheep; Kim DeMers of Winner has three children and she is employed by the Winner School District; Jeremy lives on the farm and has two boys and Bruce lives in Aberdeen and works for the Department of Transportation. He has two children.
With 12 grandchildren, Linda is looking forward to being able to go to some of their events.
She will also be able to spend more time with her mother, Marian Burtz who just turned 90.