County Recorder Deb Kupka retires after 17 years of public service

Retirement celebration held on July 29

Retiring Tama County Recorder Deborah Kupka pictured Friday, July 29, on her last day in office during a retirement party held in her honor in the Tama County Administration Building in Toledo. –Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

It was the final day at the office for longtime County Recorder Deborah Kupka this past Friday, July 29, as she officially retired from the Tama County position she has held since 2005.

Kupka, who resides in Clutier, announced her retirement this past March following a storied career of managing the integral county office that deals with everything from the county’s land and real estate records to registrations, titles and permits to vital records.

“An acquaintance talked me into it,” Kupka said with a laugh this past Friday of her initial decision to accept the temporary appointment back in 2005. Kupka made her comments to the Telegraph during her retirement party held in the Tama County Administration Building.

“I had never thought about running for office,” Kupka admitted. “But I loved it – the job itself. I’ve met lots of wonderful people.”

Several of those wonderful people were in attendance at her retirement party including three of her fellow county recorders – Lexa Speidel of Benton County, Sherry Pope of Iowa County, and Denise Allan of Jasper County.

Retiring Tama County Recorder Deborah Kupka (left) smiles alongside her temporary replacement Amelia Kemper (right) in the Tama County Supervisors' Meeting Room on Friday, July 29, during Kupka's retirement party. Kemper is running for County Recorder on the Republican ticket this November in the General Election. –Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

“We ask each other for help all the time,” Kupka said of the bond she and her three fellow county recorders have formed over the years.

Kupka’s career with the county recorder’s office began 17 years ago when she was appointed to fill a vacancy left by Marlene Thiessen who retired from the office. Kupka had never served in county government prior to the appointment – she had been working on and off in the CPA office of what is now LattaHarris since 1976.

As reluctant or perhaps as hesitant as Kupka might have been to accept that initial appointment, the decision was a fateful one, leading to a career of public service.

After being elected a year and a half later in 2006, Kupka would end up serving three full terms and two partial terms as County Recorder. Kupka last ran for the office in 2018 – she ran unopposed as a Republican.

Also in attendance at the party on Friday was the new temporary County Recorder Amelia Kemper.

Kemper – a Toledo resident who previously worked as the director of Kid’s Corner Daycare – has been working in the recorder’s office since late spring as a temporary, full-time employee in order to ‘learn the ropes,’ so to speak, according to Tama County Auditor Laura Kopska.

This past Monday during the board of supervisors’ weekly meeting, Kemper was appointed to the temporary Recorder position from August 1-8. She was formally sworn in on August 1 and will be permanently appointed on August 8.

Kemper is running on the Republican ticket in the upcoming November race for county recorder.

As Kupka, Kemper, the three fellow county recorders, and several guests got the retirement party started Friday afternoon, the camaraderie among the four county recorders was clearly evident with one of the women joking “We’re the four Musketeers!” before questioning if that analogy actually worked.

“We’re something!” Kupka responded, eliciting a healthy dose of laughter from everyone in the room.

In a statement released back in March of this year, Kupka wrote of her decision to retire: “It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve the citizens of Tama County in my almost 17 years of service in the Recorder’s office. I have met some great co-workers, customers and colleagues while in office and hope to keep some of those connections in retirement. I am looking forward to this new chapter in life with our children, grandchildren, friends and adventures.”