Scharnhorst, who retired July 31, was the vice president of human resources and the predecessor to the new vice president, Secret Holland.
The Salinas, Kan., native attended business college in her hometown and began working at an Air Force base after graduation.
She moved to Georgia after marrying a man from the state, first working at the Presbyterian Center in Atlanta.
“I actually came here [to GreyStone] working in [information technology],” Scharnhorst said.
She was hired by GreyStone as a keypunch operator where she input cards read by a large mainframe computer, according to a press release.
After working in the IT department for two years, Scharnhorst worked in accounting for 10 years before moving to the human resources department, which was her specialty when she attended Kennesaw State, earning a bachelor’s degree in business adminstration with an emphasis in human resources in 1992.
“That’s when I found my niche,” said the former vice president about the transition. “I loved working with people and in the HR department. I’m good with numbers, but that’s when I realized I was good with people, too.”
When Scharnhorst started working at GreyStone, she studied the works of Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt since he was instrumental in establishing electric membership corporations while in office.
“She was her husband’s legs,” she said of Eleanor Roosevelt, whose husband was crippled by polio. “She’s my idol. She was a woman in business and always believed there’s no such thing as, ‘can’t.’”
Scharnhorst said she believes her attitude and personality have been beneficial in her professional career.
“I think my ability to get along with people has enabled me to move up,” she said. “I think my managers have recognized that.”
In 2008, she was recognized as one of the top 10 business women in the nation by the American Business Women’s Association.
To young women — and men — starting careers in the business world, Scharnhorst offered some friendly professional advice.
“Protect your reputation,” she said. “Have good ethics and work hard, build your skills and build yourself professionally.”
Scharnhorst, a Douglasville resident, said she looked forward to having more time to square dance and travel with her husband, Wayne, in her retirement. She is also heavily involved with the Cultural Arts Center in Douglasville.
Scharnhorst has three grown sons, a stepdaughter, stepson and nine grandchildren.