Blair Garrett and James Rada, Jr.
Whether it’s in the grocery store, your local food chain, or volunteering for a charity in need, elders continue to pitch in and help the community around us.
Thurmont resident Margaret Reed, age eighty-seven, has put in countless hours over the years, working a variety of jobs. To this day, Reed still works. She aims to keep herself busy and moving.
“I love to work, and I always have,” Reed said. Her working career started off at a young age, back when it was necessary to have the whole family chip in to help. She began working at fifteen years old at Kresge’s 5 and Dime, making 35 cents an hour.
At sixteen, Reed moved on to Sagner’s in Frederick, sewing clothing, where she got a significant bump in pay to 50 cents an hour. “I thought I was rich,” she recalled.
That youthful attitude and determination was not age-relative for Reed, though, as she has carried youthful optimism throughout her life.
Reed flourished in a long career, and she had decided to enjoy retirement at sixty-two years of age. But after forty years of marriage and the passing of her husband, Reed got back into the workforce to get out of the house, where she took a job at the Carriage House Bakery.
She spent sixteen years there until her second retirement this past December. But even at eighty-seven, Reed couldn’t stay dormant for long, taking her current job, on-call, cleaning at the Super 8 Motel in Thurmont. Seeing her friends using walkers and oxygen is motivation for Reed to stay active, and keeping busy is the best way to maintain her independence.
Darlene Wastler is another example of perseverance and dedication. Wastler, age sixty-six, maintains a job at the Roy Rogers in Thurmont, where her smiling face is often the first thing new and old customers see when they visit.
She also works at the Thurmont Senior Center, offering help week after week. Wastler is a Catoctin local, born and raised. She graduated from Catoctin High School in 1970, and ever since, she has found her way in the workforce in the Emmitsburg and Thurmont area.
“I enjoy the people and the customers,” Wastler said. “If you can get along with your employer, they look out for you.”
Wastler has been a staple of Thurmont’s Roy Rogers, having worked there for more than a decade. “It’ll be eleven years Mother’s Day weekend,” Wastler said. “I got a pin for ten years.”
Despite spending much of her fifties and sixties balancing life’s stresses on top of two jobs, she doesn’t plan on stepping back any time soon. “I’m hoping to continue for a while.”
If dedication and longevity are the keys to becoming a huge part of a business or company, Don Stitely is the epitome of those characteristics. Stitely is a member of the Guardian Hose family, logging more than sixty years for the volunteer fire company.
Stitely still serves as the President Emeritus, playing a big part in the administrative duties at Guardian Hose as a volunteer. Stitley was honored at the annual Guardian Hose banquet with a certificate for his long-standing contributions.
On top of the various volunteer work Stitely has done over the years, he also works at Jubilee Foods in Emmitsburg, stocking the shelves on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At eighty years old, the motivation is built from a long career of putting in hard work.
“After people retire, they don’t last long if they aren’t on the go,” Stitely said. “I’ve slowed down a bit, but I like to keep moving.”
Stitely spent just five years in retirement before picking up a job at Walmart, and then finally at Jubilee. “I really just like meeting with people and getting out of the house a bit.”
After the last sixty years in the workforce, Stitely’s future appears to be the same as it’s always been. “I hope to stick around there for a while.”
Regardless of where you go across Northern Frederick County, you will find many elders still active in the workforce and volunteering their services to the community. With the dedication shown here by just a few of our local elders, it’s easy to see how they continue to make an impact and how their value in the workforce is still undeniable.
At eighty-seven, Margaret Reed continues to push herself to stay active in the workforce.
Photo by James Rada, Jr.