Melba Russell is celebrating her 89th birthday on August 9—but is also celebrating a unique record as one of Walgreen’s most loyal employees.
- Russell lives in the Memphis, Tennessee, suburb of Southaven, Mississippi, and has worked at Walgreens since 1956.
- Speaking with Tennessee ABC affiliate WKRN, she says she joined the company when she was 19 years old—when a slice of strawberry pie at the lunch counter cost 35 cents.
- She has transferred from multiple locations, briefly working as an assistant store manager in Huntsville, Alabama, after her husband’s job transfer.
- She officially retired from the Elvis Presley Boulevard location, in Whitehaven, Tennessee, in May.
- Russell says that she is not afraid that anybody will steal her record anytime soon.
Why It’s Important
Melba Russell’s story provides a powerful example of how personal drive, meaning, and motivation can be found in one’s work and help improve the quality of their life—and what it means to retire and find meaning afterward.
She tells WKRN that she had no desire to retire and that she greatly enjoyed her work. Her children live out of town, and she enjoyed having a job to pass the time and keep her productive. Unfortunately, she has been forced off of her feet by a bad hip and needed to back away from the job. Thankfully, she has since healed and remains in regular contact with her fellow employees.
“All the employees were so sweet, and they still are. We have lunch sometimes. I miss getting up and seeing all the employees. That was my family,” she says.
She is not taking her retirement as a chance to lie down and do nothing. She is too motivated for that. She still drives and takes care of herself. “You don’t retire and just sit down. I mean, you got to keep moving, or they say you are going to lose it,” she says.
Russell started her job in 1956, only planning on working for six months, but she says she enjoyed it so much that many years jumped by, and she never quit. “Time passes fast,” she says.