lu and judy bierbaum

Luther "Lu" and Judy Bierbaum have come full circle.

Lu, a Marthasville native and member of the Washington High School Class of 1957, and wife Judy, nee Jett, have spent decades living around the nation.

Working for IBM for 30 years in marketing and sales, Lu Bierbaum headed up branch offices in Missouri and Michigan and worked in other roles in places including New Jersey, Washington, D.C., New York and throughout New England.

Now, after more than five decades away, he and Judy returned earlier this year from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., to live in Washington, in the Eighth Street house Judy's parents lived in until they passed away.

Judy's parents were well known in town. Her mother, Gertrude Jett, who passed away in 2008, was active at St. Peter's United Church of Christ and was a member of the American Legion and Elks auxiliaries. Judy's father, Bernard Jett, died in 2000.

Lu now works for Olan Mills where he goes into a number of churches and sells photograph packages taken as part of the company's church directory program.

Recently, Bierbaum has been working on the St. Francis Borgia directory, which is updated once every five years.

While there, he's run into many familiar faces.

"We've been reconnecting with a lot of old friends and acquaintances since we've come back," Lu said. "It's been great."

Lu told a story about one such acquaintance who came in for a directory photo recently.

"I was sitting there, talking to Tom Dill, and I told him, ‘Tom, the last time I saw you was probably on a baseball diamond when we were both about 15. You were pitching and I was in the batter's box.' "

Columbia, Beyond

Lu lived in Marthasville until he left for college in Elmhurst, Ill., in 1958.

After college and marrying, the Bierbaums relocated to Columbia. Lu worked for the Jefferson City branch and was named "rookie of the year" by IBM in his first year as a salesman.

The couple wed on Aug. 27, 1960, at St. Peter's United Church of Christ in Washington.

While there, Lu served on the board of a private college in Columbia.

At the time, the college was a two-year, all-female college. The college changed its name to Columbia and became a four-year, coeducational college in 1970, according to the school's Web site.

After stepping down from the board, Lu was awarded with an honorary business degree.

In 1967, the Bierbaums relocated to Washington, D.C., where Lu sold IBM computers to government and medical facilities.

Along the way, Judy has been a dedicated mother and housewife.

After a few years out east, the Bierbaums moved back to Missouri, where Lu managed his first IBM branch in Springfield.

Only a few years later, the couple was off to Flint, Mich., and Bierbaum was overseeing a larger office.

"We were there for about three years," Judy said.

While the computers themselves changed over the years, the mission remained the same, Lu said.

In 1976, the Bierbaums moved to New Jersey. After that, it was to the corporate offices in New York.

"When he took the job in Albany, the idea was we could see our kids through high school," Judy said.

"It worked," Lu said. "We were there for 20 years."

In New York, Bierbaum worked to build IBM's presence in schools.

"At the time (in schools), it was all Apples and Apple IIs," he said.

"If you can't make it with IBM in the New York market, you're sunk," Lu joked.

IBM, short for International Business Machines, has been a presence in New York since it was founded in 1911.

When Lu retired from IBM, the New York State Commissioner of Education office recognized him for his work with the state and committment to bringing technology to classrooms, Judy said.

Judy and Lu both were active in the Malta Presbyterian Church while living in New York.

Judy was in charge of publicity for the church, and for her service, the church named their community center built in recent years after her.

The Bierbaums' children, Mark and Elizabeth, both were born while the family lived in Columbia.

After retiring from IBM, Lu Bierbaum began working for Olan Mills, where he's been for a decade. Initially, he was selling photos throughout New England.

Now, he's back in the Midwest.

Familiar Territory

"I travel to Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and in Missouri," Lu said.

"He's a real road warrior," Judy said.

Lu said his unique job is something he enjoys.

"I have become unemployable in a traditional sense," he joked. "I work afternoons and evenings and have my mornings free to do things."

Among the things he likes to do are goose hunting and playing golf.

The Bierbaums have three grandchildren, ages 16, 13 and 2.

Since moving back to the Washington area, the Bierbaums also have become active in The Presbyterian Church, Washington.

"The church is an important part of our life," Judy said.

Church and renovating their home has occupied a large portion of their time since returning to Washington, the Bierbaums said, but they're hoping to soon return to some of the other social activities they enjoy.

They expect no shortage of that in Washington.

"All the moving around we did over the years kept us constantly ready for change," Judy said.

"We've always tried to take advantage of what was available for us to do whereever we lived," she said.

The couple has enjoyed the various Downtown Washington events including the farmers' market and the live concerts, Judy said.

"It's amazing to see how much is going on in Washington," Lu said. "Compared to other towns its size, and I've been to a lot of towns, Washington has a lot going on."

The couple has embraced technology, perhaps in part because of Lu's decades of experience with computers, to keep up with family.

"If it weren't for e-mail, we might never talk to our grandkids, and we're on Skype twice a week with our youngest in Chicago," Judy said referring to a popular Internet-based streaming video conferencing program.

The couple had been traveling to the area over the years to visit family. Now they're again calling the area home.

Now that their home improvements have been mostly completed, Lu said he's looking forward to hitting the links more often.

"I've only played golf three times this year. For people who know me, that's ridiculous. I normally play two to three times a week," he said.

Those home improvements have been lengthy, Judy said.

"I've probably gone through 20 gallons of paint," she said.

In addition to golf and fowl hunting, Lu said he hopes to have more time for another of his passions, baseball.

Lu and Judy attended the last Cardinals game of the season this year on Oct. 3.

His daughter got him a baseball autographed by Stan "The Man" Musial for his 70th birthday. "To Lu, Happy 70th, Stan Musial," the ball reads.

"No matter where I've been, I've been a Cardinals fan," he said.

"He especially remembers the Cardinals winning the World Series on Oct. 15 ,1964, the afternoon our son was born," Judy said. "There was a lot of excitement in the maternity ward at Boone County Hospital that day."

Lu's love of baseball goes back to his youth when he played Khoury League and American Legion ball.

The Bierbaums are fans of Washington and the Midwest too.