Both women became certified. The testing was split up over two or three days and those trying to get certified had to prove their skills in several areas including business management, typing, professional skills, professional behavior, and knowing business definitions among other areas
The hard work paid off when Lillian became certified in 1979. Eugene surprised her with a vanity license plate that read 2D CPS, which stood for Toodie Certified Professional Secretary. Toodie was Lillian’s nickname.
“I surprised her with that,” said Eugene. “Somebody asked her one time, ‘What’s this 2D cups?’ We laughed. She had it for a long time.”
Lillian was proud enough of passing her certification that she kept the plates until 1985, when she purchased a different vehicle.
The couple owned two service stations in Ottumwa and Lillian’s business skills were certainly an integral part of running them.
“She did the books and ran the front office,” said Eugene.
In 1985 the couple decided to make a move and bought the Don Elen Motel in Centerville, which they ran for 16 years, until they retired in 2001. The couple say they loved running the motel and visiting with their repeat customers, but decided to give it up when they felt they needed to slow down. Still they loved their time owning the Don Elen.
“It was a good business,” said Lillian. “We had such nice customers. And then they would come back. It was like a reunion all the time.”
After selling the motel, some health issues slowed the couple even more and they downsized again and moved to a new house, still in Centerville, where they say they have enjoyed getting to know their neighbors spending time together the last several years.