Friends, peers and community members gathered at Parkview Christian Church on Sunday to bid farewell to majors Mark and Sue Haslett after their collective 37 years with the Salvation Army.
The couple, who married in 1994, came to their Sedalia post in 2009 following a stressful posting in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where they helped that community deal with two tornadoes and historic flooding that affected some 20,000 people.
During the ceremony Mayor Elaine Horn praised the couple for embracing the community and supporting vital initiatives such as the summer food program that now feeds more than 1,000 people daily.
“Since Mark and Sue have been here in Sedalia they have made a marked difference in our community,” Horn said. “They have just opened their arms and done anything and everything asked of them, and they always did it willingly. They have touched our lives and touched our hearts and they made each person feel they are valued and important.”
That view was echoed by Open Door Benevolent Ministries Executive Director Jack Menges, who told the Democrat “they have been wonderful to work with.”
“They came here and jumped in and we have worked together on things,” Menges said. “They will surely be missed.”
For their part, the couple told the audience they “saved the best for last” in coming to Sedalia as their final assignment.
“We have had several appointments. This is the last appointment. God saved the best for last and if I knew it was going to be this much fun, I would have asked to come here sooner,” Haslett said.
Following the retirement ceremony, Mark told the Democrat “every appointment can be good or bad — it is really your own attitude.”
“But, this has been an excellent community to be in. The people really make it what it is,” he said. “It is a more accepting area and there are a lot more people that want to jump on board and help out with projects.
“I have never been in a community with the number of volunteers you do here — and there is the willingness. Its not just that you have volunteers ... here they enjoy what they do and come back for more. It is amazing. You really don’t find that everywhere.”
Sue agreed, adding: “We had such a great time here. It has been a lot of work and different challenges, but God has been faithful and he has brought us this far.”
“Sedalia welcomed us. We felt like we were family when we got here,” Sue said.
Although they have completed their service to the Salvation Army, the couple decided to retire in the area and hope to spend their newly found free time fishing and spending time with their family.