GIFFORD — Gifford State Bank President Tony McLain called Darla Rubarts "the face of our Ag Department" at the bank.

McLain said Rubarts, who has been at the bank for 21 years, was employed there when he started.

"Many of our ag customers when they walked in the door, they went straight to Darla," McLain said.

Rubarts will be retiring from her post as loan administrator and heading for greener pastures as in the golf course and the baseball field to watch plenty of America’s pastime.

An open house to honor Rubarts on her retirement will be held during bank hours Friday, Dec. 29, at the bank. People can stop by any time to wish Rubarts good luck.

Her job will be assumed by several bank employees.

"She was just one of those people who was always there when you needed her," McLain said. "We never had to ask Darla (to help). When it was time for Ag Plot Day, she was there."

McLain said Rubarts was also instrumental in the annual Gifford State Bank Community Craft show held the week before Thanksgiving at Gordyville.

Prior to her work at the bank, Rubarts worked for 20 years at Rademacher True Value.

The soon-to-be retiree quipped that she could never call off work because of bad weather. She always lived within a block of either the hardware store of the bank and walked to work.

She started at the bank after being asked to by Millie and Koleen Roseman.

"The timing was right," Rubarts said. "I did enjoy Rademachers. It gave me a lot of skills, everything from building to plumbing to electrical. I can change an electrical outlet or fix a ceiling light or fix a toilet."

A native of rural Rantoul, the former Darla Franzen moved to Gifford after she married her late husband, Phil, who passed away in February. She has two daughters and five grandchildren.

Having reached 65, Rubarts said she decided it was time to retire and smell the roses.

"Life’s too short," she said. "I’m just going to retire and enjoy my grandkids. I have family from here to Florida and Arizona."

One of those family members is her great-nephew, Brett "Maverick" Phillips, a Florida native who made the Milwaukee Brewers’ roster last year. Rubarts plans to watch him play in spring training in Arizona.

One of her bucket list items is also baseball-related — to visit every Major League stadium. So far she has visited "half a dozen."

Rubarts said she is "still a Cubs fan" despite her great-nephew making the Brewers roster. She roots for the Brewers when they’re not playing the Cubs.

She said being a Franzen, she comes from a baseball family.

Rubarts said she also plans to hit the golf links.

dhinton@rantoulpress.com