Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Deputy Collector Always Tried Harder, Watched County Grow over 36 Years

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Deputy Collector Always Tried Harder, Watched County Grow over 36 Years

Article excerpt

Always do a little more than is expected. That has been Alice Griesenauer's approach throughout her career as deputy collector of St. Charles County.

On June 30, Griesenauer will retire after 36 years with the county. Looking back, she doesn't measure the excitement of those years by historical events, political intrigues or great strides of progress. For her, the excitement has been in a continuing growth in knowledge about her job and the many friends she has made.

When Paul Feuerstein was elected county collector in the late 1950s, he asked Griesenauer to work for him. The two had worked together at American Car and Foundry in St. Charles.

She recalls telling him that she knew nothing about collecting taxes. "I didn't even go to high school," she said.

One of 10 children, Griesenauer grew up in rustic Dardenne, near O'Fallon. Her father, a blacksmith, had not felt it important to give his daughters much schooling. Alice completed the eighth grade.

Feuerstein told her that she didn't need a lot of education, just common sense, and he knew that she had plenty of that.

He told her, "I'll teach you. We'll learn together." That was the beginning of a lasting friendship.

"He was an old-time gentleman," said Griesenauer. "I went in there so scared, but he was so kind. He taught me every day."

Griesenauer grew up in a home with no running water, indoor plumbing or electricity. She said coming to work in the "beautiful" St. Charles Courthouse was a memorable experience.

"It never got boring," she said. "I'm just a quiet person. I just sat behind my desk and worked."

The most exciting thing about her job, Griesenauer said, has been the daily, monthly and yearly balancing of the records.

Griesenauer remembers how small the county was in her early days on the job. The 1960 Census pegged the population at 52,970, a little more than a fifth of what it is today. All elected officials were in the courthouse then, except for the sheriff and the jail. The collector's office was contained in one room but quickly outgrew that space. In 1970, the office moved to 118 North Second Street, a building that had been a bowling alley. …

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