Larry Boatwright worked his last day at Lewisburg Industrial and Welding last week. He had been with them for an astonishing 49 years and two months. Fellow workers say Boatwright is the first to arrive and the last to leave.
He says the store is "like home" to him, and adds, "I'm going to miss the people -- I enjoy working with people that will work with you."
When asked what he is going to do with his retirement, Boatwright explains that he is going to take care of his parents, now aged 94 and 89, and also his elderly aunt and uncle. "That's what we're here for, to take care of each other," he says. "I've been lucky that I've had good health all my life."
What are the biggest changes he's seen in his 49 years at work? He saw the store grow from six employees when he started to a high of 36 in 2000. After the owners built the Napa store on West Commerce and moved the auto parts business there, the work force in the Third Avenue store went down to 23.
The biggest change in his working life was the introduction of computers. Before computers came, everything was hand written -- invoices, account ledgers, all kinds of records.
Suzanne Warf agrees that computers have been the biggest change in her working life, too. She worked her last day at the Bank of America on Friday, March 28. Warf started work in banking in November 1976, and has never worked anywhere else. She did take time off for her children, so her total time of service was 27 years and eight months.
When she went to work, the bank was called First National and was in the building that is now the Courthouse Annex. It went through several name changes before moving to the new building on the northeast corner of the square as Nations Bank in 1997. There have been as many as five branches around the county and, at one time or another, Warf has worked at all of them.
She says, "I've really enjoyed my customers. I'll miss seeing them. I've made some good friends through the bank."
She and her husband live in a house built in Mooresville by her great-grandparents in 1900-'03. They have been remodeling it for the last 24 years and they have inherited furniture and other items from all branches of the family. Now that Warf is retired they plan to finish work on the house, and get it all cleaned out and organized.
There was a festive atmosphere at the Bank of America all day Friday, as people brought Warf flowers and gifts and stayed to give her a hug and partake of the refreshments that were on offer.
Both Warf and Boatwright will be missed at their former places of employment, and co-workers will be missing their wisdom -- born of years of experience -- when there is a problem to be solved.