Deb Martinelli

I am in the very best time of my life. Where my emotions drive me, not logic. Where I can be true to myself, and embark on the challenges I choose. Retirement is a true gift, and I am thankful.

As I write this story, and after traveling to many places, I believe I may have found my new place on this earth, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It is a beautiful, romantic, challenging place driven by Mexican core values of personal dignity, trust, family and friends, and freedom with time.

Progressive spirits with big hearts and a wealth of creative talent seem to have found their way here, and it feels great to me.

Making sweet breads (pans) for our Mexican friends.

I am energized and eager to be here with my exciting, loving partner, Jack, embarking on a life akin to the life I dreamt of in the 70s as a young hippy. How cool is that!

Shopping in a Mexican food mercado.

In 1985, I felt privileged to be chosen for the position of Director of DNR’s Human Resources Bureau. I was only 33, and a bit naïve. At 6:30 AM on my first day, I made my way to Secretary Buzz Besadny’s office where I found a man in red flannel and denim with a big smile and eyes that easily teared with emotion. We chatted and laughed about how Buzz got his knickname, our families, our common Bohemian heritage, green eyes, recipes, and travel. We laughed and bonded. Two hours later, I came out with one assignment. It was to talk with Buzz often. What a great start!

Doubt and tears came often to me and others during our toughest DNR assignments. The assignments associated with reorganization of DNR under the vision of Secretary George Meyer. You see, we in Human Resources believed that if DNR had a lofty goal, the folks in DNR, the unions that represented them, and DNR’s partners would team up and find a way to achieve the goal. DNR was full of entrepreneurial spirit at that time, but reorganization brought about an atmosphere of fear, anger and regret. We felt it every day for four years. We worked a lot and slept too little during that time. We tried to make the reorganization as humane as possible, but it hurt everyone involved. A few years after the reorganization was completed, it was undone.

Ancient Ruins in Turkey.

Deb fly fishing - her newest sport, which she enjoys along with: canoeing, backpack hiking, snorkeling, and traveling around the world.

Pride in my Human Resources work came from the great team of people we had that time - Sue, Roy, Rosie, Jim, Dell, Jeanne, Ruth, Karen, Jeff, Patrick and many others. That team positioned DNR for the future. We established a human resources system in DNR that provided high-end benefits, exceptionally efficient data systems/payroll systems, challenging and fulfilling jobs for employees, a platform for lifelong learning, employee assistance, a management assistance team, and team-building.

That coupled with the updating or removal of a host of “knuckle-dragging” policies, creation of policies on many civil/equal rights laws, and the first work-at-home program for moms and dads with newborns made DNR a pretty darned good place to work.

In my last two years of DNR life, I joined the Bureau of Community Financial Assistance (CFA) where everything, despite my divorce, was on the plus side of life. Behind the scenes CFA staff helped others via the administration of grants and loans, to accomplish necessary and meaningful projects to: protect natural resources treasures, improve infrastructure for Wisconsin’s drinking and waste water systems, and protect the environment. Frankly, I felt a little guilty taking a pay check for my work in CFA; it was such a feel good program. A nice career ending to say the least!

Joy came frequently, and still does, from the many relationships I developed with the strong minded, fun, and giving people I met through DNR work. Thank you all! My special thanks need to go to one of my DNR and life mentors – Bill Smith. Bill works hard every day to do the right thing for everyone, and is truly one of the foremost iconic leaders in our DNR life. I’m guessing you all know him and feel the same way.

If you made it to this ending, and you would like to get in touch, I can be reached via e-mail most of the time.