Councilwoman Mary Rehklau focuses on individuals as a leader

The idea of joining government was first introduced to Ward 2 Councilwoman Mary Rehklau during an over-the-fence conversation with a neighbor.

Mary said her neighbor, on the Council at the time, had decided to move to Jefferson City and would no longer be able to fill the seat. She encouraged Mary to consider running in the next election.

“She said ‘Well, attend a meeting sometime.’ A couple of weeks later, I sat in on one, and I loved it. I absolutely loved it,” Mary said. “When the election came up, I ran, and nobody ran against me.”

Mary joined the City Council in when she was already retired from a career with the Walmart Corporation.

Mary was originally raised in Iowa, and her former husband was in the Air Force. They had three kids, two girls while living in Hawaii, and a son while living in California. When her son was 14, and the three kids could be more independent, Mary went to work at Walmart.

“It was a new company starting back then. I was a cashier, and in two years, I went from a cashier to managing a program,” she said. “I went to the first supercenter the company had; the night before the grand opening, Sam Walton came in. The management staff always went and sat in the little snack bar, and he sat there on the edge of the little booth. He asked everyone questions, and he said ‘Do you believe, Mary, that this company can sell groceries?’ I said, ‘I think if we can sell tennis balls and men’s underwear, we can sell food.’ Of course, you can see what’s happened. He made a big impression on me; he really did.”

Since moving to Fulton, Mary was involved with the Callaway County Chamber of Commerce when it was starting and is part of her homeowner’s association.

Mary said she views herself as a leader and has over the years.

“Not so much now. I don’t know, maybe I’m getting tired,” she said. “I love people. I’m pretty good at direction. I’m compassionate, and I see diversity. When I would step into a new store, I saw individuals. I wanted to make a team. I listened to people. I tried to give good direction and follow-up. It makes me feel good to see people promoted and succeeding.”

While her time working for Walmart and Sam Walton proved to be a large influence on her life, Mary also had her aunt as a role model while growing up.

“Back when I was growing up, my aunt was a businesswoman,” Mary said. “She was a buyer for a big department store in Omaha, Nebraska. She traveled a lot as the buyer for the company. Wow, back in those days, a woman in management – upper management especially – was rare. She really made an impression on me. I remember being little, and she’d take my hand, and ask ‘Want to come with me?’. She’d be in this big department store in this big office. She was impressive. She was in charge. It left quite an impression on me. She was a very good manager, good leader.”