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Leaving her day job: Anderson retires from day care

A group of former day care kids at Jone Anderson's day care in Morris. Anderson retired after 40 years of providing day care. Photo submitted

How many diapers could one day care provider change over 40 years if they were filled with the maximum amount of kids for much of that time? The number is high, too high for one local day care provider to even care to remember.

Jone Anderson, of Morris, celebrated her retirement as a day care provider after 37 years earlier this summer. She said that around 40 of her former day care kids were in attendance, along with some family and many parents.

Starting in the early 1980s, Anderson quit her job in order to take care of her first born. "When I gave birth to my daughter, I told myself I didn't want anyone else raising her," Anderson said.

From there, her idea of becoming a day care provider expanded. Along with her husband, Doyle, the couple moved from their first home near Wheaton and into Morris. After moving to a few different rental homes in Morris, the couple purchased land on the outskirts of town.

The design of the two-story home came together with the idea to have the basement host the day care. Set with a full kitchen, bedrooms, as well as a play room, "It was built to be separate from the rest of the house," Anderson said. Along with much of her day care items, the walls are decorated with gifts of thanks from some of the parents. Anderson added her favorites are framed letters and notes from her day care kids, many of which included memories of watching Anderson's horses and playing outside in the dirt.

Many of Anderson's day care kids were children of teachers. For a majority of the years, the day care was full with children from one-year-olds to 12-year-olds. "When they were older they were embarrassed and said they weren't in day care, they were my helpers," Anderson laughed with a beaming smile.

"My favorite memory was the food, especially the mac 'n' cheese. She makes it special, I don't think anyone knows how she does it, but it's better," Katie Ohren added. A former day care child of Anderson, Ohren recalled being outside a lot and Anderson's positive attitude. "She always stayed positive around us. If she was ever in a bad mood, we never noticed."

Over the years, Anderson cared for her fair share of children, including a few from two generations, including Heather Baumler and her two children, as well as Cole Swenson and his son.

Anderson kept an open mind when it came to day care projects. In 2007 when Ohren came to her with an idea for a time capsule, Anderson approved. "It was an afternoon project," Ohren said, "we found random things to put in it." That included a newspaper clipping about Anderson's nephew, Dustin Anderson, letters written by day care kids, and a quarter. "It's just a random quarter, I don't know if we thought it'd be worth more," Ohren added.

It took a half an hour to find the capsule when former day care children gathered at Anderson's home earlier this summer.

When asked why she continued day care for so long, Anderson said, "the kids give you so much reward, and I think I still am a kid at heart."