A woman considered to be the fixture of one of Seymour’s McDonald’s restaurants recently made her final Big Mac.
After 42½ years of service, JoAnn Leslie decided it was time to retire.
The 79-year-old Freetown native who now lives in Seymour worked her final shift March 1, a day before she had a major surgery.
“It really kept me going,” she said of working 40 hours a week. “But then when I had to have major surgery and had to go way up north to have that, it seemed like everything just fell through. I didn’t think maybe I was going to get back on my feet, so I just decided to retire.”
On April 12, her co-workers and family members gathered at the restaurant at 913 E. Tipton St. to celebrate her years of dedication.
Among those present was Madeline Scales, a floor supervisor who has worked at McDonald’s for 10 years.
“She has always been a really good manager,” Scales said of Leslie. “She has always been a really good, hard worker. She was always pretty professional. She tried to take care of her crew people pretty good, making sure everybody had their breaks and had something to eat and things like that.”
Scales said customers and employees will miss having Leslie around.
“It’s going to be pretty quiet, kind of sad,” Scales said. “She’s like a fixture here. It’s not going to be the same.”
Leslie’s commitment to her job is admirable, Scales said.
“I wish I could work one place for 42 years,” Scales said. “It would be very inspiring, and I think it’s something really good for the younger generation (to see).”
Leslie worked several years at the shirt factory in Seymour before starting at McDonald’s. At that time, she lived in Little Acres with her husband, who is now deceased.
“I wanted to just get out of the house, and my husband didn’t want me to work,” she said. “He said, ‘Well, I’ll tell you what, you can go for three or four days, three or four hours a day,’ and that’s what I did.”
Leslie began working the grill at McDonald’s before later moving up to management.
“I didn’t want it, but they talked me into it,” she said of being a manager. “They cornered me, and I said, ‘Well, I’ll try it, but I want night shift,’ so I worked night shift, and I loved it.”
She spent many years working from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.
“My crew, we had a good time,” she said. “We’d have a ball of a night in here.”
During her tenure, Leslie said one of the biggest changes was when the store went through a complete remodel a few years ago. She also worked for several different bosses and said she probably worked with hundreds of crew members.
She said she’s glad she was talked into being a manager.
“I just like to be around people,” she said. “I’m just a people person.”
Leslie also saw several menu items change over the years, with her favorite addition being mozzarella sticks.
Her favorite McDonald’s food? Chocolate chip cookies, she said.
As far as Big Macs, she said, “Eh, I got tired of those.” She said she prefers a regular cheeseburger.
Even though she announced her retirement, Leslie said she may not have worked her final day.
“I may decide I want to come back,” she said. “I’m sure I could come back if I wanted to. I would love to come back a few hours a day and a few hours a night.”
Since retiring, Leslie said she spends a lot of time watching television, crocheting and reading.
Stephanie Teipen, one of Leslie’s eight grandchildren, said she wouldn’t be surprised to see her grandmother back behind the counter someday.
“I don’t foresee it lasting,” Teipen said of her grandmother not working. “I think it’s one thing that has kept her going. Can you imagine being 79 years old and working 40-plus hours a week? She’s just an inspiration for anybody. Seventy-nine years old and works night shift, not many people can work that many hours.”
Name: JoAnn Leslie
Education: Brownstown High School (1954)
Occupation: Recently retired after 42½ years of service at McDonald’s restaurant at 913 E. Tipton St., Seymour
Family: One stepchild; eight grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild. Her husband, a daughter, two sons and a stepdaughter are deceased.