The couple was married in 1984. Pete has worked a total of 42 years for American Family Insurance.
"I started at the corporate office in Madison in 1979," said Pete, as his clients know him. "The sales part of my marketing work led me here to Beaver Dam after a local insurance agent retired."
Mary was working in Madison, but after twins were born she wanted to work closer to home. In 1990 she joined Pete in the office, and became an integral part of the operation.
"I couldn't have done it without her," Pete said. "She played a humungous role in this whole deal."
Mary is also a licensed insurance agent. During their time as agents they moved office a number of times - from South Spring Street to North Spring Street, from Stoddard Street to North Center Street. Their current location is in what was formerly a gas station. They also took over a branch office in Juneau when the agent there retired.
Over the years the client base expanded from 500 to 600 households to the current 3,500 households.
All of which makes saying goodbye so hard.
"We're finding out as we say goodbye how many loyal customers have stayed with us through thick and thin, and it has made us feel good to be that to them," said Pete.
"When people came in we'd hear about their families or what's going on in their lives," Mary said. "We built relationships with our clients and that's why we'll miss them the most."
Being able to help clients provided the couple some of their strongest memories.
"Some people comment that they never use their insurance, but we're here when you need us, if you need us," Pete said. "Whether it's paying out a life insurance check or looking at hail storm damage. Whether it's a fire or a tornado. We feel it's important to have personal contact unlike a website or an online policy. We have to be there to back up all the promises that we've made over those years of paying premiums. That's why we got into this business."
The Parkers repaid their clients' trust.
"We were always willing to do special things to make us stand out," said Pete. "Whether it was answering an email on Sunday morning or taking a phone call at night. Because we know that people have 100 other choices for their insurance needs."
The pair had been talking about retiring for a couple of years, but delayed their goal when COVID-19 came along. Now seems like the right time.
"Both our kids live close by," said Pete. "Our son is in Madison. He and his wife have a little guy who's four and another one on the way. Our daughter is in Waunakee. She and her husband have four kids. The goal is to spend more time with them all. The grandkids are growing so fast, we don't want to miss it."
"We'll be grandma and grandpa for a while and then decide what else we want to do," Mary said. "Maybe travel? Who knows?"
The couple plans to remain in their adopted hometown. Kyle Schroeder and his family will be moving to the area and will serve the Parkers' former clients.