There are many ways you could evidence Susan Peach’s importance to DirectLink and the impact she made on its members and employees during her 22 years of service. But the easiest way to sum it all up is a story from one of the rare times in those two decades that Peach wasn’t at her usual post.
Peach was on a well-deserved vacation at the time, and DirectLink Billing Services Manager Sharon Puhlman was covering the phones. But the caller knew instantly that there was something different.
“The voice on the other end said, ‘You’re not Susan,'” Puhlman recalled with a laugh. “‘Where is Susan?'”
Most folks in customer service don’t gain a fan following — or expect to — but most folks aren’t Susan Peach. Colleagues say Peach, who retired last month, gained hers through her infectious and constant smile, welcoming attitude and sterling reputation for being kind, helpful and genuine.
“I’ve referred to her many times as ‘the voice of DirectLink,'” said Puhlman. “[It is] her friendliness and the way she loves her [members]. They love to speak with her.”
“Susan was very member-focused,” agreed Member Services Supervisor Michelle Madison. “She greeted them by name and made them feel important.”
Peach joined the DirectLink team as a temp agency recruit in January 1999 — joining the permanent staff on June 24 of that year — back when the telecommunications provider was still known as the Canby Telephone Association or, simply, CTA.
She comes from a long line (pun, as always, intended) of telecommunications employees and operators, she said, and reckoned it was in her blood.
“I thought, ‘OK, let’s just go along with the flow,” Peach recalled with a laugh. “And, you know, I liked people, and I liked answering phones.”
As Canby — and DirectLink itself — grew around her, Peach remained one of the agency’s most visible representatives to members and the greater community. She said she always enjoyed the chance to interact with members in person and over the phone.
“I enjoyed the interactions with all the members and my coworkers,” she said. “I made friends with people over the phone and in person. People that I recognized every month — they felt like friends to me, and that always kept me going.”
Peach was also active in many organizations in the Canby and Mount Angel communities, like the Canby Adult Center, Canby Independence Day Celebration, Slice of Summer and North Willamette Valley Habitat for Humanity builds — and was a key contributor to countless DirectLink initiatives and volunteer endeavors.
“I enjoyed all of that,” she said. “I always loved getting out with the Canby people. It feels good to have everybody together and feel like you’re part of something bigger.”
Peach took pride in her job and in making sure that people were taken care of, and said she hopes she leaves a legacy of respect and hard work.
“I got along with everybody; I enjoyed working with everybody,” she said. “I worked with a lot of people over the years. I just hope that they remember me as somebody friendly and willing to do the job and take on extra ‘whatever.'”
Peach plans to take it easy in retirement, with the most excitement likely coming from the occasional ATV ride. No epic memoirs are currently in the works.
“I’ve had people over the years saying, ‘You could write a book,’ between the kids and my work,” she chuckled. “But no. Just planning on doing some traveling and spending more time with family.”
She has three children, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
“That keeps me busy.”
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!