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Ruthie retires

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Photo by Kim Dean/NLJ Grace Sandrini, Ruthie Spence, Sharon Ackerman and Shawnda Sandrini pose for a photo at Spence’s retirement/birthday party on June 14 at the Pinnacle Bank meeting room.
KateLynn Slaamot, NLJ Reporter

Spence leaves a legacy at A-1 Agency

In a small community, local business owners are more than just a point of business interaction. Their relationships with clients and customers become friendships, at least that’s the way Ruthie Spence felt as a business owner.

“The customers were our friends,” Ruthie said, noting that she will miss serving her customers, after recently retiring from her business, A-1 Agency.

Ruthie is a long-time member of the community. She said she grew up on a ranch south of Newcastle on the Cheyenne River, and went to a small country school for 10 years. She went to Newcastle High School for her last two years and graduated in 1962.

She then went to work at the bank. After she and her husband, Bill, got married, he also went to work at the bank. Later on, in the 1970s, the couple got involved in A-1 Agency with Jim Piana, Lee Hayne and Charlie Smith. Bill sold real estate and Ruthie was in insurance. Shawnda Sandrini, who began working with Bill in real estate in 1990, has now taken over the business.

“I just worked with a wonderful group of people. We were like family,” Ruthie said.

Sandrini grew up knowing Ruthie because Sandrini’s mother, Sharon Ackerman, and Ruthie have been best friends since high school.

“We’re a very close-knit office. Ruthie and Bill were like a second set of parents to me,” Sandrini said.

Ackerman also worked for Ruthie for 35 years, and she said they worked together very well.

“We’ve been lifelong friends. … We’ve never had an argument,” Ackerman said.

Ruthie’s kindness toward her customers stands out, Sandrini said, and customers loved Ruthie for that. Sandrini said that she’s excited to be the new owner of the agency and continue that legacy.

“I’m blessed to be able to continue A-1 Agency as insurance and real estate both,” Sandrini said.

As for Ruthie, she said she’s excited to step into her new chapter of life as a retiree. Ruthie joked that her hobby was working, but she is a member of a few organizations, such as 21st Century Club and the local Philanthropic Educational Organization chapter. She is also involved in her church, she said.

Ruthie said she is very thankful for the community and its support over the years, along with all the friendships she made along the way.

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