In her footsteps: Mother’s Day

Some children, like Jessica Cline, know early on they’re going to follow in their mother’s footsteps.

“I can’t remember ever talking about doing anything else,” said Cline, a nurse in a management position at Marietta Memorial Hospital – like her mother, Juanita Duff.

Others, like Marietta native Lyndsay Offenberger, don’t really like the idea of following in mom’s footsteps.

“When I started college, I remember saying to everyone that I was absolutely not going to do advertising and public relations,” said Offenberger, the daughter of Memorial Health System director of marketing and public relations Jennifer Offenberger.

Today she’s a media and accounts coordinator at J.W.T. Action in Akron.

Cline and Offenberger aren’t the only area residents who work in the same field as their mothers. In honor of Mother’s Day, some of them reflected on what it’s like to be mothers, daughters and professional peers.

Juanita Duff and Jessica Cline

From a young age, Cline heard about her mother’s job and even tagged along as Duff worked at nursing homes and as a home health nurse. Although the experiences weren’t always pleasant, it did nothing to turn her away from the job.

“I think as a kid I was more like, ‘So this is what I’m going to do when I grow up,'” laughed Cline, 33.

For the last 12 years, mother and daughter have worked at Marietta Memorial Hospital. Today Duff, 57, is director of nursing, medical-surgical, and Cline is a clinical nurse manager.

“When she first became a manager, she was asking me questions all the time. But that was to be expected,” Duff said.

Now, the mother finds herself seeking advice from her daughter as well.

“What she brings to nursing is different than what I bring to nursing,” Duff said, citing her daughter’s creativity in dealing with employees as one example.

Cline said she never really talked with her mom much about specific situations but definitely leaned on her experience, especially when it came to management matters.

“It was good to be able to talk to somebody that understood the picture better than a textbook (could show),” she said.

Duff has never been Cline’s boss, and she said they’ve laid some ground rules about things they can and can’t discuss. That’s helped prevent any strain on their relationship.

“She knows that when there are things coming down that I can’t talk about, she doesn’t even ask,” Duff said.

Cline said her mother is very personable with her employees and she tries to emulate that.

“Some employees have told me if they worked for her, they know it’ll be OK working for me,” she said.

Jennifer & Lyndsay Offenberger

Lyndsay Offenberger, 24, was studying sports medicine at Marietta College when she had to take a required marketing class. Much to her surprise, it turned out to be a good fit.

She altered her course of study and entered an internship at Memorial, not directly under her mother Jennifer’s supervision.

“That really kind of drove it home that this is what I love,” Lyndsay said.

Jennifer Offenberger said she’d encouraged her daughter to look at careers in the medical field where there was going to be a need for workers. She hadn’t anticipated or tried to steer her toward marketing, but was excited when Lyndsay chose it – because it was something that made her daughter happy.

“I certainly strongly encourage my children to find what they’re passionate about,” she said.

Jennifer said she’s a “people person” who likes working at the hospital and having “the chance to support people who make a difference in people’s lives every day.” Lyndsay enjoys meeting clients and working with them to find out what works and what doesn’t, as well as the creative side of marketing.

When Lyndsay graduated in 2011, she took a job with the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. That put her and her mother in some of the same circles, working with the same people and even on some of the same events.

“We talked shop a lot at night,” Jennifer said. “It was a lot of fun to have somebody to have those conversations with. … (We) really kind of got each other on a whole different level than just being my daughter.”

Lyndsay said she appreciated the chance to get advice from and bounce ideas off her mother. They aren’t afraid to tell each other what they’re thinking, she said.

“I think the conversations that we have are maybe on a little bit of a different level than if you’re talking to a colleague or a friend,” she said.

Karen Strahler & Traci Strahler Chichester

Traci Strahler Chichester, 42, worked in the family business from an early age, but it was on her father’s side of it – Ken Strahler Masonry and his laminate shop. Her mother, Karen, encouraged her to pursue a Realtor’s license, like she had.

“I knew she’d be good at it,” said Strahler, 63.

Chichester didn’t pursue it at first, but 12 years ago, her circumstances changed and she finished the classes necessary to earn her license.

“I decided to try it and never looked back,” she said.

“And now she’s top agent!” Karen Strahler said. “She just took to it like a fish to water.”

As Chichester got into the business, if she had a question or was stuck on a negotiation, she didn’t hesitate to tap into her mother’s years of experience.

“You can’t learn some of the stuff she’s taught me in classrooms,” she said.

Strahler and Chichester both said they like helping their clients through the realty process.

Today, mother and daughter are Realtors with Advantage Real Estate in Marietta. Chichester handles primarily residential realty, while Strahler focuses on commercial. If one of her former clients contacts her about a residential job, Strahler has no problem referring them to her daughter.

“I know she’ll give them the same kind of service that I gave them,” she said.

Betty Hadler & Laurie Strahler

Following in the footsteps of her mother, Elizabeth “Betty” Hadler, was at times a daunting prospect for Laurie Strahler, owner/operator of five area McDonald’s restaurants.

“My mom was so great at it, and she was so well-respected in the McDonald’s community, and one of the first women operators,” she said.

But eventually Strahler realized she could make her own mark – thanks in part to her mother’s confidence and encouragement.

“I’m just so thankful for my mom,” she said. “She believed in me, and that’s something I’ll always treasure.”

Strahler was the store manager at the first McDonald’s in Marietta when her parents opened it in 1976. She said the business “gets in your blood” and one of the things her mother loved about it was helping other people succeed.

“That’s still very important to me,” said Strahler, whose McDonald’s locations in Marietta and Caldwell employ about 260 people. “They may start with us when they’re 16 years old, and then seeing them advance to being a manager … it’s a very demanding job and they work very, very hard.”

Strahler partnered with her mother as an owner/operator in 1992, the year before Hadler passed away. Since then, Strahler has taken on leadership positions within the local McDonald’s co-op and Pittsburgh region, as well as in the community.

“I learned from a great teacher,” Strahler said.