Retiree Spotlight

Meet Laura and Dennis Raher

Laura and Dennis Raher

It's not every day that we have the opportunity to feature a husband and wife retiree team at Meet Laura and Dennis Raher, who both worked for The Upjohn Company and later Pharmacia.

Laura began her career with Upjohn in May, 1985. She started working part time in the secretarial pool in Portage, MI. "After just 1 ½ years," recalls Laura, "I moved into Human Resources where I worked for 12 years as an administrative assistant, a network technician and finally an ESDB (employee database) technician."

Laura later moved to Information Technology (IT) as a mainframe database security professional, securing the data on the mainframe and granting access as authorized. Data access at the time was as important as it is today – without proper authorization a person could not get access to data on the mainframe computer without going through Laura's security area. Laura retired from Pharmacia in 2004 with the acquisition by Pfizer.

Dennis began his career with Upjohn in Portage, MI, as well, in August, 1980. He started as a Programmer/Analyst in the IT organization, assisting in developing numerous IT systems for the Marketing organization. After a number of years in this position, Dennis transferred to the Database Administration group within IT, where he continued to advance his career until he retired in 2004 as a Senior Database Administrator.

"Upjohn had an excellent reputation as the premiere employer in Kalamazoo, with good benefits and a good retirement plan," noted Laura. "We were thinking early about what we would like to do when we retired, and putting aside a portion of our pay for the future was great," said Dennis. They would also be close to where they both grew up and where their aging parents are located.

Dennis explained, "I have always been extremely thankful that I joined Upjohn." For Dennis it was far more than just a job. The work was always challenging, and continuously changing. "I always worked with a team of excellent people, which made going to work each day something I looked forward to. What more could you ask for in your work environment," he recalled.

Time at Upjohn held a slightly different meaning for Laura. "My time at Upjohn was a growing and learning experience," said Laura. "I learned things about many areas of the company over the years and made many friends (some I never met face to face)." It was a wonderful 19 years and Laura keeps in touch with her Upjohn friends.

Laura recounted a memory from when she first started working in Human Resources. "Those people knew how to work hard, but still have a good time," she smiled. When the woman Laura was hired to replace retired happily, 20 people in HR in Building 88 got together and made a black coffin, tied black ribbons around their arms, and paraded throughout the building and to the office she had to turn her papers in to. "What a hoot," recalled Laura. They then went out to lunch and celebrated!

Laura and Dennis met while in the town where Laura grew up – Delton, MI. Dennis was 17 and Laura was 15. "We married at 22 and 20 and have been married for 35 plus years!" noted Laura. They have no children, but they have nieces and nephews they enjoy. They currently live in the home Dennis' parents built in the 1950's.

Laura and Dennis are very happy in retirement. They enjoy having the time to get things done at home and get out of the weekend warrior mode. "We can get projects done at home without having to put everything away for the work week," said Dennis.

Laura added, "We get together for lunch with friends and don't have to watch the clock to get back to work on time. We can ride for 20 or 30 miles a day on our recumbent bike, if we want, and do the projects at home the next day."

And ride they do! Laura and Dennis have had their recumbent bike for 4 years and have traveled with it to Florida (nearly every winter), Minnesota, Wisconsin, Mackinaw Island, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, and Georgia. We're tired just listing all of those places!

"Wherever we go, it goes," Laura laughed. "We have over 7,000 miles on the bike so far and are always looking for biking trails or quiet neighborhoods where we can ride," added Dennis. They ride the bike to the store and usually fill their car with gas about once a month (though the tank is rarely empty at that point). They have a great time exploring and seeing nature. "We have met many lovely people and enjoyed chatting with them about our bike," said Laura. Some have even bought side by side recumbent bikes seeing how much Laura and Dennis enjoy theirs.

When not biking, Laura and Dennis spend time at home in Michigan working on projects, caring for their lawn and designing a home they plan to build in Florida. They will be traveling to Italy this fall and hope to do more international travel over the next 10 years. "We also really love to travel the United States," said Dennis. They have camped for years and have many places they want to revisit as well as many places to explore. Whenever possible they travel with their bike!

Here at, Laura likes to see what is happening at Pfizer (since they own stock). "The medical news for seniors is also great to read," said Laura. She has touched base with some of the retirees in the online community there. "I always like to read what other retirees are doing," she said.

This time Laura and Dennis, the spotlight is on you! Thanks for sharing your careers and retirement days with us.

Click here to see Laura and Dennis Raher's photo gallery.

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