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Dorothy Bale will turn 95 this May and she’ll likely celebrate the day by enjoying an Arby’s Reuben sandwich — with extra sauerkraut. But unlike many people her age, Bale is still working and she's been employed at her local Arby’s for 25 years. And she told TODAY that she has no intention of leaving the job which brings her so much joy anytime soon.
The 94-year-old started working at the Arby’s in Holladay, Utah, after retiring for a bit at the age of 69.
“I needed something to do,” Bale told TODAY Food days after her 25th anniversary celebration with the fast food chain. “I’ve always had a job and I live close so it made it very easy.”
Bale drives the mile commute to work each day, parks in the corner of the chain’s parking lot and struts into work ready to take on the lunchtime rush.
“She’s awesome,” Cici Salvador, the Holladay location's general manager, told TODAY Food. “She’s one of my most important staff members. When she’s not here our customers miss her and when she is here, they wait in line for her to help them, even if it takes a little longer.”
Bale used to work five days a week for the chain but she recently cut back to three shifts per week. Still, her boss says that Bale works just as hard as her younger coworkers and has attracted a fanbase of loyal Arby’s customers.
Back in 2014, Arby’s CEO recognized Bale as the company’s oldest employee ever at a conference in Las Vegas. She’s now broken her own record four times over.
Before working at Arby’s, Bale worked in her husband's dental office for 23 years. The duo closed their business in 1988 and waded into retirement together; but when Bale's husband, Dennis, passed away suddenly Bale looked back toward employment for comfort and normalcy.
"I decided 'I've got to go find a job'," Bale said. "I have always been busy.” So she walked into her local Arby’s store and started her new job within the same week. She’s now worked with 21 different managers, and she stays in touch with many of her former coworkers.
According to her current supervisor, it’s not just her age and determination that charms customers.
“She’s so hard working,” said Salvador, who joined the Holladay staff four years ago. “She’s always just going, going, going. She doesn’t stop!”
The Holladay Arby’s sits right across the street from Olympus High School and when lunchtime rolls around, plenty of hungry students flood the restaurant. “You wouldn’t believe how many kids are out there right now,” Bale told TODAY during a moment when she was able to step away from the chaos.
“I’ve met so many wonderful people, my customers and my co-workers,” said Bale, unaffected by the lunchtime pressure. “It’s all very good here. I keep quite busy.”
Working hard and keeping busy makes Bale happy. When she’s not ringing up hungry customers or bussing tables, she stays active with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She keeps her home garden in tip-top shape and she refuses a golf cart when she plays a round at Nibley Park Golf Course.
“I’ve been blessed with good health all these years,” Bale said during a moment of reflection. "I don't know what I'd do if I retired. I don't like to stay home."