SILVIS — The last of the originals is ready to say goodbye.
When the TPC Deere Run facility was in its infancy, Vikki Davis was hired as a marketing assistant. After seeing the 20th edition of the John Deere Classic come to an end on Sunday, the Deere Run Executive Administrative Assistant will be on the inward nine to the end of her 20-plus years with the club later this summer.
Davis is the last of the original full-time employees to be with the club, starting before it officially opened in 1999.
The decision to leave was both easy and difficult for Davis. The youthful 63-year-old leaves her work family to be able to spend more time with her growing family in the Des Moines area that now includes grandchildren ranging from ages one to 14.
“Absolutely, without a doubt,” she said when asked if she was going to miss the daily interactions with the staff. “This has been a huge part of my life for the last 20 years. I have met so many amazing people and made life-long friends here.
“This will be a huge part of my life that I will miss. I have enjoyed it immensely and it has been my honor, actually, to work with each and every one of these staff members and the staff that we have making my job such a pleasure. … It will be hard to leave.”
It's going to make for a drastic transition for the remaining staff. Davis brings an outgoing personality to the job and keeps the office space light while also being a dedicated and talented employee. Once again, during this past tournament week, she was calm in the heat of putting out fires.
That's just how she operates and one of the reasons she won the club's employee of the year honor that was announced last month at the end of the fiscal year.
“It's incredible and she's been through a lot of general managers and a lot of changeover from the start of the property until now,” said Todd Hajduk, TPC Deere Run general manager. “She's been a rock star and been the rock at this facility. She's delightful to have in the front office.”
Her outgoing personality and infectious smile have set the tone in the Deere Run office. Her distinct laugh can usually be heard at least an office or two away. All of those things will be missed. As will her work ethic and quality of work.
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“There is not a person who knows the ins and outs of this operation anymore than her,” said Alex Stuedemann, TPC Deere Run superintendent. “Vikki is one of those people that she doesn't care if it falls under her job title; if she recognizes there is something that is going to come up short, she just takes care of it. She doesn't look to see who the person is who can do that, she just takes care of it.
“I think we're all going to see here when she leaves all the things that she's doing that we're not even aware of.”
As Stuedemann says, says is steering the ship, something that is well recognized throughout the organization.
“She's very well organized, she knows what needs to get done and she understands all the ins and outs having been here for the tenure that she has been here for,” said Hajduk. “She loves to have a good time.”
And that enthusiasm and energy wears off on everyone in the organization. There is little doubt that she sets the tone in the administrative office and helped the organization run smoothly despite all the changes she has seen from her office.
“The 20 years of people coming and going has gotten us to the place where we are today,” said Davis. “Working at TPC Deere Run has been an absolute pleasure for me.”
Which is a pretty good spot thanks to her help. But her influence has been bigger than just the work. She has become a big part of her co-workers.
“I hate to use the term den mother, but that's what she is,” said Stuedemann. “She's our keeper.”
And then some.
“As much as we're losing a co-worker,” said Jim Franz, Deere run maintenance director, “we're losing a friend.”