After years of working in different towns and professions, Wayne and Bette Durst finally figured out a way to spend more time together. In 2000, they began working together at the University of Minnesota … in the same department … doing the same job.
Wayne had worked at the U for many years, starting out at the Waseca Campus before it closed.
“I was between jobs and (the university was) having a big hiring push back in 2000,” remembers Bette Durst. “So, I applied and came up here and that way we could commute together and have the same days off, so it’s great.”
Her job at the U was Durst’s first custodial job. After getting her degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Mankato State University, she worked in the activities department of a nursing home for three and a half years. Once the couple married, Bette worked in a bank for 14 years, then spent a few years at a manufacturing plant before landing at the U.
She started out in Hasselmo Hall, then moved on to Amundson, Keller (EECS), Lind and Rapson before landing in Jones Hall.
“The surroundings at the U are interesting and a lot of interesting people work here,” commented Durst. “This is not just a janitor job where you just do your job and leave and not care about what you’re doing. We’re custodians. We take care of the building, we take care of the people, we look after the people. We do the cleaning but we’re also observing what’s going on around us and we let the staff know if something’s going on.”
Durst’s efforts in Jones Hall earned her the Beautiful Building Award this year.
“I read some of the letters,” said Durst. “It was basically them supporting me with the letters that they wrote in for recommendations. They commented on how I observe things and care about the security of the building. How I’d let them know if something was left unlocked and take care of it.”
Bette and Wayne will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in September. They live in a house that they built themselves (with the help of friends) on a hobby farm near Faribault 18 years ago. It took them about a year to complete the house. They enjoy doing carpentry work both at home and as a side business.
The Dursts owns several horses that they ride around the neighborhood and trailer to state parks. The couple used to rent their land out for corn and soybean farming, but now they use it to raise hay for their horses.
Bette’s love of horses makes sense when you consider that she wanted to be a veterinarian growing up. Her parents wouldn’t allow her to have a pet, so she wasn’t able to spend much time around horses until she was old enough to earn money to support her interest. Her first introduction was at a riding stable in high school where some friends had horses.
Durst may not be a veterinarian, but she still spends a great deal of time caring for her horses.