The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Donna Wood Retires Her Wood Tax & Accounting Business After 30 Years Along La Harpe's Uptown Main Street

Wood's Employee Ty Huston Steps In As New Owner dba Huston Accounting & Finance

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher/Owner

La Harpe- As a student at Western Illinois University, you just never know where your life might take you, especially as a woman in the 1970s. In fact, it sometimes just comes from forging forward with the best opportunities that lie before you that can bring you success and happiness.

For Donna Wood, who has given an entire life of financial service to the La Harpe community, it came as a happy middle ground for her and her husband Richard when they were deciding where to settle after marriage in 1973, Richard had graduated in the last class of Bowen High School and she was from Central Camp Point.

Donna was attending Western Illinois University in Macomb and Richard was working at JI Case since 1972. Donna said, "We picked a halfway point at La Harpe on advice of Richard's Aunt from Fort Madison, IA,, sight unseen, and we've made it our home and glad we did."

Donna took two years of college at WIU in Macomb in Business Administration, but she explained, "I didn't see anywhere it was going to take me as a woman in the 70s, so I dropped out and worked 14 years."

Donna worked for 8 years at the First State Bank of La Harpe and then worked for Richard Rasmussen Attorney 5 years.

"I did taxes and different work with different governmental units and I learned a lot from Dick," Donna said. "I took a class at WIU on FUNDS AND GOVERNMENTAL ACCOUNTING, and I read Statutes and just figured it out," Donna said. I took accounting in high school, but all my jobs contributed to where I ended up," she said.

Donna said she found she really liked working with local government and tax issues working for Dick.

After receiving her degree in Accountancy from WIU, Donna moved from working for Rasmussen to opening up her own business on September 1, 1990, a couple of doors down from his office. In 1992 she received her CPA license.

She started out doing 100 tax returns in February-March-April and grew to over 450 tax returns.

Alongside helping farmers, employees and businesses with taxes, Donna helps the park district, fire district, cities, townships, villages with their budgets, reports, taxes and questions dealing with governmental agencies.

In 2020, COVID-19 has made another change in her business.

"This last year has been the worst and the most stressful," Donna said, "but we have the best clients and have had no problems, but it is like the season has never ended."

Donna said there have been so many governmental programs and extensions so even now the July 15th deadline has been moved to an October 15th deadline. It seems they keep filing extensions.

Their door is locked and masks and appointments into the office quit in March. No one has been back in her office but clients or residents mail, drop off, email, or phone their work or questions. Donna was already working toward retirement as she came upon her 30th year. All the while they still have semi-monthly payroll and monthly accounting to do.

Wood Accounting has also been doing tax estates and trusts for the local attorney. During COVID there has been a lot of extra hours.

"It's a business that is deadline driven," she said. "We have the challenges of many changes, both state and federal, with only a week to finish up."

Donna was able to acquire help during tax season with an intern through WIU.

In January 2017, a La Harpe graduate Ty Huston, agreed to work during tax season in 2018, and has continued in 2019, and 2020. Ty served in the U.S. Army and now is in the National Guard. He recently was promoted as a Warrant Officer in the Illinois Guard and at times he is gone on assignment, but he still helps and fills in as needed, Donna said.

Ty graduated from WIU in December 2019 with a major in Finance and a minor in Accountancy. On October 1st, Ty will take over Donna's clients, but with his own business in the same place, doing business as Huston Accounting & Finance.

Ty is the third of seven children, the son of Rex and Teresa Huston of La Harpe. Ty and his wife Rachel have six children, age 2 months to 14 years and lives outside Smithfield (between Bushnell and Cuba.

"It's an easy hour drive for me," Ty said. "I am looking forward to the challenge and will still have Donna coming in to work as needed, along with our other employee who has been working here - Alex Walker. He has his accounting degree from WIU and has been working with Wood Tax & Accounting a year.

"I am ready to turn over the business to the next generation," Donna said. "I'm glad I have continuity. We've picked up business, partnerships, cooperations, etc. and there are very few younger ones getting into it. There is a huge growth opportunity for Ty," she said.

As far as community activity, Donna was active in Golden Rule Club for 15 years, volunteered, along with Richard, with summer softball/baseball for 25 years. and she served as treasurer for various organizations, such as PTO, Booster Club, Post Prom, when their kids were in school.

Retirement for Donna may be sorting through her collection of things that accumulate when you work, some reading and sewing, and lots more trips to Indiana to visit her son and her daughter's family.

And she may alleviate some of the cooking duties that her husband Richard has done for her over the years and since his retirement in 2009 after 37 years with Case in Burlington, IA.

Donna and Richard have raised two children. Their son Dustin lives in Carmel outside Indianapolis, Indiana and is senior designer for an advertising agency. Their daughter Marcy (Joel) Briggs is a dental hygeinist and lives in Indianapolis with two daughters, Harper (named for La Harpe) and Sloan.