In the past few months, all eyes have been focused on Sue Vanatta.
She was elected District 23 Wilson County Commissioner, served as Grand Marshall of the Lebanon Christmas Parade and - at the end of this week - will retire as President of the Lebanon/Wilson Chamber of Commerce after holding the position for 23 years.
Vanatta was born in Gainesboro, Tennessee, but moved to Lebanon on Dec. 31, 1973 for her insurance business.
"I moved here on Dec. 31st and I'm retiring on Dec. 31st. That's just how my life is," she said.
Vanatta joined the Chamber of Commerce to promote her business and quickly became involved as a volunteer. She served on the Membership Committee and the Board of Directors for two years when she was asked to fill in as President.
"My children grew up with the chamber," she said. "They joke that now that I am retiring, they get to retire too. They've been involved with the chamber since Day 1."
Her four children Mike McCoin, Mitzi McCoin, Donna Hollie and Monica Alsup have been great blessings to Vanatta.
"I remember one year I had a child in high school, one in junior high, one in elementary and one in kindergarten. I had a child in four different schools. I was a taxi service that year, but it was a fun year," she said.
Even now, her free time is focused on her family. "I get to babysit my grandchildren and we make so many memories together," Vanatta added. In 2012 the entire family went on a Disney Cruise - something they plan to do again in 2016.
For Christmas this year, Vanatta treated her children and grandchildren - equaling a total of 21 people - to a stay at Opryland Hotel in Nashville. One of the most touching moments of the weekend was when her granddaughter, Ava Alsup, knelt next to the ice nativity scene. "That to me told a story. It was just so sweet," Vanatta said.
Vanatta has also taken many trips with friends across Europe and the United States. She has visited 38 of the 50 states and plans to visit more this summer. "I am going out west with Odell and Linda Bain. We will probably visit South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Nebraska," she said.
The women Vanatta most admires are her mother, Bertie, and Aunt Lydia - who taught her about having a strong work ethic and independence, respectively.
Vanatta plans to spend the next month in Florida - reading and relaxing. She said she has already downloaded six books to read on her trip.
At the end of January, Vanatta will come home and continue to serve Wilson County. "This is where my children grew up. Wilson County has everything to offer," she said. "I'm leaving, but I'm not leaving."
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at email@example.com.