MONROE — After more than four decades working in the numbers business, Ed Pas says retirement is knocking on the door. He may not answer immediately — he hasn’t set a date for that — but said he’s prepping himself by spending his days enjoying the things he loves, surrounding himself with family and friends and contributing to the community whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Pas grew up in Watertown, around the size of Monroe at that time, and was the youngest with two older sisters, who were a positive influence on him.
He spent his days often helping his father, who ran a feed mill, and enjoyed hanging out with a small but steady group of friends. His family memories include spending time in Minocqua with family annually and finding time to be in Lake Mills, with relatives who would make the trek from Milwaukee.
School was enjoyable for the elementary school student, who was an accelerated reader, likely from his mother and sister’s attention.
At Watertown High School, Pas played football and also stayed busy working. He was employed at a Sears store and still helped at the feed mill. He played in the band during his early school years and took part in drama and science clubs later on.
Working became more of a priority for Pas as he got older. He was responsible for the weekly newsletter and pricelist at the feed mill and enjoyed working alongside his father. He also helped load trucks, clean the warehouse and worked in the mill. He enjoyed driving the forklift on weekends.
“My parents didn’t believe in handouts,” he said.
The 1968 graduate of Watertown High School said he had a fairly solid plan after graduation — he would attend the University of Wisconsin-Platteville for mechanical engineering. It was a subject that interested him early on — he was known for taking things apart and putting them back together throughout his childhood. He enjoyed his high school physics courses and found shop interesting.
He tested high into several honors courses at UW-P, and although he enjoyed the manageable campus, he struggled with some of his course work. His intent was always to eventually transfer to Madison, and after a year and a half he found a group to room with and headed that way.
Madison was a better fit, he said. He couldn’t get into some engineering courses right away so he took some business classes to fill the gaps. He enjoyed them so much, it changed his focus.
“I loved my accounting classes — I guess I found my thing,” Pas said. “But I’m still a tinkering engineer at heart.”
He graduated with a degree in accounting from the School of Business at UW-Madison in December 1972. He landed his first job in Madison with a large accounting firm and enjoyed the work greatly. The only down side, he said, was the necessary travel for out-of-state clients.
By that time, Pas had met his wife in Madison, Mandy, a Monroe native. He spent a little time in the small town, and found opportunity for work when he met a senior partner with the firm during a social event with his in-laws.
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He admits he hesitated for a second before making the move to Monroe in 1977.
“I wasn’t sure if there would be enough — things,” he laughed. “As it turns out, Monroe has so much.”
Pas is one who enjoys basic principles, order to things and can appreciate rules and interpretation. But despite that — one of the things he loves most about his work is the ability to help people and the employees with whom he works.
“We work a lot with our clients — give them advice on issues that might arise,” he said. “I enjoy that.”
Being able to provide assistance has also brought him contentment and happiness.
“I enjoy helping people,” he said.
Through the years, technology has changed things greatly in his work and Pas has tried to embrace it. He became a partner at the firm in 1981, fairly quickly, and said he enjoyed the independence and job security that came with it. His entrepreneurial spirit was happy to move so quickly and he’s now comfortable at Reffue, Pas, Jacobson, Knox & Koster LLP.
He said he never felt like Monroe wasn’t enough and the town quickly grew on him.
“As I would come to find out — Monroe is such a neat town,” he said.
His involvement in the community began early on. He became active with the Jaycees, Curling Club and the Monroe Country Club. He met several people through work and organizations. He said his wife laughed early on when they would be out and about and more people would recognize him than her — despite her longevity here.
“The town was really welcoming,” he said.
Over the years, he and Mandy served as foster parents, and although Pas found it rewarding to a degree, he also found letting go difficult. He also once served as the president of the Monroe Country Club board, and was involved in the country club’s reorganization around 10 years ago. He was part of the historical society, and was a committee chairman of the Wisconsin CPA society, earning several awards in the 1980s.
“Everybody in their own way contributes to the world,” he said. “It’s important to try to make it a better place.”
When his son, Alex, was going through school Pas also stayed active with him.
As a family, they enjoyed downhill skiing boating as a family. For the past three decades, Pas said boating has been his and his family’s biggest outlet to get away. They spend time in Dubuque, Iowa, often where they have a slip, boat and camper. It’s still a place they enjoy regularly with lasting friendships they’ve made through the years.
“Getting out on the water takes all of the burdens off of you,” Pas said. “You kind of forget about everything else.”
One of his biggest commitments through the years has been Cheese Days. For almost each festival since he moved here, Pas has helped with the parade and arts and crafts fair. He’s chaired the parade several times and still works Sunday mornings helping with its organization. He’s also in his seventh year organizing the food vendors on the square.
“I don’t know that I have a title,” he said. “I suppose I’m the chair of the food concessions.”
He said when he was asked to help early on he laughs and said he must have ended up on “some list” — but smiles at the importance of lending a hand to the festival.
“It’s nice to be involved in things in the community,” he said. “I feel some loyalty to Cheese Days. I think it keeps us on the map.”
Pas said he’s been fortunate through the years and is grateful for his health and his family. Mandy retired two years ago and Pas said that’s definitely something he sees in his future.
“We’re all having a big debate about when,” he laughed.
He said he hopes to see more of the country with Mandy and finish several projects he has going at home. He still loves to tinker with things. Although leaving the firm will be difficult, Pas said he’s ready to travel more and spend time with Alex, who now works in Chicago. He also still enjoys golfing when he can.
Pas subscribes to a way of thought that he works to keep strong within himself and among the 20 employees in his office.
“I just think it’s a great thing,” he said. “Our philosophy in this firm has always been ‘the community gives you a good living, you should be giving back.’ I think you have to be oblivious to the world if you don’t see opportunity to help.”