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08th Jul 2023

Woman, 90, who hasn’t missed a day of work in 74 years finally retires

Steve Hopkins

And she never called in sick – not even once

A 90-year-old woman has finally retired from her job – having not missed a day for 74 years.

Dillard’s, an upscale American department store, threw Melba Mebane a party to mark the occasion, with management telling US media that the pensioner is the “happiest, most up person” who had given “so much service to the community”, earning her “so many friends”.

Melba worked at Dillar’s in Tyler, Texas, beginning her career when it was known by a different name, in 1956, then age 17.

She began as an elevator girl, then moved to the cosmetics department, where Dillard’s vice president, Drue Dillard told KLTV 7, she was a joy to watch: “I would come watch her in cosmetics and go, ‘I wish I could be like that. Because she was incredible with people. Still is.”

Melba was beloved for showing up to work with s smile every day, and for never calling in sick. Not even once. She was loved by customers and her colleagues alike, so naturally, excelled at making sales.

The store manager of Dillard’s in Tyler, James Saenz, said Melba “touched” so many lives.

Speaking to Fox News, he said: “Melba sets the tone for everything, every expectation, every customer service quality that we look for in a luxury experience.

“She provides all of it to the team. Can you imagine how many people she coached and taught and trained to aspire to be more?”

Beyond her work ethic, Saenz also praised Melba for her kindness, dishing out life advice whenever sought, which led to her quickly forming friendships.

She told the broadcaster she was overjoyed to have worked with “great ladies who love to eat, laugh, and cut up”.

The nonagenarian cherished the friendships she made while on the job, which made her love her work even more.

Melba’s son, Terry Mebane, told Fox News he was inspired by his mum’s work ethic and had fond memories of watching her so off to work and of visiting her at the retail giant.

Terry said he effectively “grew up in Dillard’s”.

Praising his mother, Terry told the broadcaster: “She’s a grinder. The store would open at 10 and she wanted her parking spot, so she got there between 9 o’clock and 9:15.

“She was the first person in the door and had her counter ready. She did the prep work. She only took 30 minutes for lunch. She brought her lunch, went upstairs to eat lunch in 25 minutes, and then she was back on the floor because she knew that people often took off [during] their lunch hour to come to the mall to buy what they were going buy, and she didn’t want to miss her opportunity.”

Through her 70s and 80s, Terry said his mum was still doing 40-hour weeks, and he would drop her off and pick her up.

Health issues meant Melba finally decided to call it quits, but her advice to others is to “come to work” and never see it as a “paycheck”.

Dillard’s hosted a retirement party for Melba, where she was given the beyond excellence award.

A plaque featuring her photo is now hanging on the wall inside the Tyler store.

In May, Joe Grier celebrated his 89th birthday at his job at manufacturing company, Victory, in Chicago, having spent most of his life working seven days a week, something he said “makes me feel good”.

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