Linda Stroup has touched many lives in her 33 years as a Howard County probation officer.
That was evident Thursday — her last day of work. A group of men whom she’d counseled and assisted over the years braved the wind and cold to greet her as she exited the courthouse.
With a single rose in hand, each one — including her son, Ralph — gave a hug and wished her well.
“Oh, my God,” Linda said after seeing the small crowd.
“She was always an upfront lady,” David Arrenendo said.
“When I was on probation, she reminded me I had a family,” he said. “Now, 15 years later, here I am. I’m with my kids and doing good. She’s like a mother figure.”
“She really looked out for me,” said Ricky Lewis, who also has known Stroup for 15 years.
“She’s always been real fair and treated me like a son.”
A 1971 graduate of Butler University, Linda began her career as a juvenile probation officer for Howard County in 1974. She worked in that capacity until 1988, and has served as an adult probation officer since 1995 — until Thursday.
“I really loved my job,” Linda said, before departing her office for the last time.
“Looking back, it seems like a long time,” she said of her career. “Then I think, where has the time gone?”
Technology, she said, is one reason why she decided to leave.
“It’s less personal now with all the technology,” she said. “I felt like if I could sit down and talk to a person, I could get a stronger sense of their needs and vulnerabilities.”
When she started, Linda said she wrote everything down with a pencil and piece of paper. There were no computers and high-tech phones to mess with.
“It’s a lot different than it used to be.”