Linda Newland, general manager at Gottschalks in Soldotna for the past 28 years, reviews reports during her final days at the store.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
After nearly three decades of employment with Gottschalks in Soldotna formerly known as Lamonts Apparel general manger Linda Newland is finally calling it quits. She retired Saturday to pursue things more important than making money.
"It's time to spend time with family," she said.
Newland's parents live in New Mexico, which is where she'll be relocating to, to assist and spend time with her mother who is suffering from emphysema.
"My family is important. I want to spend time with my mom while things with her health aren't too bad and be there if things do turn bad," she said.
Newland started her career in Fairbanks, working the leased jewelry counter at Lamonts back in 1977. She came to the Kenai Peninsula with Lamonts in 1984 and was promoted to general manager in 1986. Then, Lamonts was converted to Gottschalks in 2000.
"It's been 28 years since I first stepped foot in Lamonts. That's longer than some people serve for murder or capital crimes," she said jokingly.
But, in all seriousness, Newland said the years were largely good ones.
"I wouldn't have stayed this long if it wasn't a positive thing. I've worked with good people over the years and met some neat customers from all over the place. So, to leave that and longtime friends it's sad," she said.
Newland said it also will be tough to leave because of how much she loves living in Alaska.
"It's really bittersweet because I thought this was it. Growing up I moved around a lot, but when I came here in '84, I knew this is where I wanted to live forever," she said.
Newland said that in many ways New Mexico is just as extreme a place to live as Alaska, it's just extreme at the opposite end of the thermometer.
"It's going to kill me. It's mostly desert, with extreme heat and no close mountains. I've vacationed there, but living there will be a totally different world. It'll be a huge change," she said.
However, Newland said she believes she will one day call Alaska home again.
"I don't look at this as a forever thing. Soldotna's my home, and I'll be back. I'm an Alaskan till I die, I'll just be an Alaskan living in New Mexico," she said.
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