Still going strong: Walmart employee celebrates 80th birthday

MORIAH BARTLEY/SPECIAL TO THE DAILY TIMES 

GLASGOW — Mary Groce of Glasgow will celebrate her 80th birthday this week. 

A veteran Walmart employee of 27 years and a familiar face for many, Groce said, “I’ve always been a people person. They ask questions and talk to me and I talk to them. I just like interacting and the people.”

Born and raised in Port Huron, Michigan, Groce recalled her first job as being a carhop at a restaurant. "But I was only about 11 years old when I actually started working by cleaning houses for others I knew," she said. 

Groce and her husband moved from Port Huron to Glasgow in 1973. “My first 15 years of our marriage, I stayed home with my kids,” Groce said. “When my little girl died in 1976, I started to work in a bake shop. Then I went to IGA. I was the bakery manager there for nine years and then had my own bakery for five years,” she said.

“I came to Walmart in 1991. I told my husband I wanted to get out of food, but when I started here they still had the Snack Bar, so I did that for a couple years,” Groce said. “Then I worked at Bud’s Discount for three years. It was still a part of Walmart, but was a store where they sold stuff that had been returned.”

When Groce returned to Walmart from Bud’s, she said she did, “just about every little thing” for the next several years.

“I started out as a cashier, then I went to the service desk, and then I was a Customer Service Manager (CSM). I also worked in different departments and stuff,” Groce said. “Like if they needed somebody, I did it. I made keys, I’ve mixed paint, and I’ve cut fabric, almost about everything.”

“When we moved to the supercenter over here, I was still a CSM, but I decided as big as the store was, I didn’t want to be running all that, so I worked at the service desk,” Groce said. “It was only about this past year that I started cashiering all the time.”

Reflecting on the loss of another daughter just three years ago, Groce said, “I just can’t sit at home. I enjoy being out and doing things and being with people.”

“I like cashiering because I like the people. I have regular customers that recognize me. Anywhere I go in town they recognize me.”

“I have some really sweet ones, too,” Groce said. “They’ll say you don’t look like you’ll be 80. Or they’ll say nice things like how pretty I look some days or that they like my jewelry. I’ve even had a few say they come through my line to see what kind of jewelry I have on that day.”

Groce and her husband have been married for 57 years and these days he drives her to work. “When he retired, he told me that you’ve taken good care of me for all these years and now I’m gonna take care of you. He does the washing, cleaning, and even cooks,” Groce said. “He takes really good care of me.”

“Walmart has been good to me. The management has been really good to me. And I appreciate it, I really do,” Groce said. “I enjoy my job. I just thank God that my health is good enough and that I am still able to work.”